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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Charlestown Chunks #7

News nuggets you may have missed

By Will Collette

The CCA will also be rolling out its new
line of eco-fashions to wear in
conservation developments. You,
too, can become a tree. Or a shrubbery.
This seventh installment of Charlestown Chunks is another effort to report on smaller news items that really don't on their own warrant full-length article treatment.


The Charlestown Citizens Alliance is desperate to pass a new ordinance that would increase the scope of power for the all-mighty Planning Commission. Having once condemned “conservation developments,” the CCA now embraces them, but with a twist.

The new ordinance is essentially designed to be so onerous and complicated that no one is likely to try to build any new housing developments in town. It’s clearly another CCA power play.

Property owners angrily stormed the first hearing on the ordinance, forcing a continuance of the hearing to be bumped to the earliest possible date. Then, so many people showed up that the Council could not continue the hearing due to an over-capacity crowd exceeding Fire Marshal limits. 

Now the hearing is postponed to August 22 at 7 PM at the auditorium at the Charlestown Elementary School. Be sure to bring your balloons and banners.

Also postponed is former Westerly Democratic town chair Bob Ritacco’s pre-trial conference on the two counts of rape contained in a grand jury indictment. Pre-trial conference has been postponed until September.

She can’t always get what she wants

Here is the actual map LaBossiere included in her proposal for $375,000
to build new bike paths. There was also a second map that is equally
useless in telling you exactly where the path would go.
One article of faith in Charlestown is that CCA matriarch Faith LaBossiere always gets what she wants. Whether it’s a bike path in Ninigret Park that was not needed – and according to Faith would only cost $7000, except it ended up costing $266,927 plus interest – more regulations on landscaping, shrubbery or whatever, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance could be counted on to give her what she wants.

Until now. On July 18, the Town Council held a special meeting to go over a list of projects proposed for funding under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Faith snuck a project onto the list under the auspices of the illegally appointed “Block Island Sound Subcommittee” to spend $375,000 for 1.79 miles of new bike paths.

Aside from being improper on its face, Faith’s scheme is a revival of past biking schemes that would involve either asking property owners to give up land for the right of way or town purchase of land rights. Also the destruction of some portions of stone walls along the route. Variations of this scheme failed in the past due to those problems as well as liability issues – i.e. who pays when bikers inevitably get injured in a fall.

Then there is the money question, namely can Faith's cost estimates be trusted? Like Faith’s Folly in Ninigret Park, the one that Faith said would only cost $7,000 went over-budget by 4,000%. If you apply the same arithmetic to Faith’s new scheme, the final cost could be around $15,000,000.

Little details like this didn’t stop the CCA Council majority from giving Faith what she wanted in the past. However, on July 18, a miracle happened. Faith’s scheme was killed by a 4-1 vote, with CCA counselors Susan Cooper and retiring Councilor Bonnita Van Slyke voting NO.

Hooray Fidget!

Fidget is OK
Charlestown-based journalist Cynthia Drummond recently had a scare when her vet thought her beloved Corgi Fidgit might have cancer. But after a battery of tests, it turns out that the growths the vet thought might be cancer turned out to be “benign nodules.”

I’m very happy for Cynthia. I’ve gone through this kind of crisis with several companion animals in the past – usually not with as good a result – so I understand the range of emotions you go through as you try to get the right answers.

But in this case, Viva Fidget!

Fidgit is frequently featured in Cynthia's entertaining Tweeter site.

Party! Party! Party!

Now that Charlestown’s state Representative Blake “Flip” Filippi has decided to abandon his party and not run for re-election in the face of his first opponent since his initial election in 2014, I wonder what he’s going to do. 

Flip says he decided to quit because he wants to concentrate on an arcane lawsuit he has brought against the Joint Committee on Legislative Services. What’s the case about? How decisions are made in the General Assembly.

When Flipper’s attentions are not required on this crucial lawsuit that everyone in Rhode Island is watching with rapt attention (sarcasm alert!), Flip also has the family businesses on Block Island to tend to. 

Also, he needs to take care of his cute cows on his Lincoln ranch before he slaughters them to sell as organic beef.

It’s his Block Island businesses that probably need his attention most right now. Local police conducted a sting on establishments serving liquor to determine whether the laws on under-age drinking were being followed. For the most part, bars and restaurants, including Filippi family properties, were not carding young customers. They were issued warnings and told to knock it off.

According to the Providence Journal:

“However, Ballard's [a Filippi property]  issued a statement to ABC6, saying that they take the matter "very seriously and will be working with the police department to ensure best practices are enhanced and put in place immediately.”

No Red Flags in Charlestown

All but the most fanatical gun nuts generally support red flag laws designed to enable police to take guns away from people who are found to pose a danger to themselves and others. 

It was one of the better provisions of the bi-partisan gun bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by Joe Biden.

Rhode Island also has had a red flag law on the books.

The Boston Globe recently surveyed Rhode Island cities and towns and found that the red flag law was used 128 times in the four years since the law has been in effect.

Nearly every municipality has used the red flag law to take guns from dangerous people, some through the State Police where the town lacks its own police department (e.g. Exeter). 

Charlestown was one of the ONLY towns to report no instances where CPD intervened to takes guns away from a dangerous. Even Burrillville, which declared itself to be a “Second Amendment Sanctuary” where gun laws are not enforced, reported three instances where the red flag law was used.

Still hoping the feds bust Justin Price

Local nutcase legislator Rep. Justin Price (Trumplican- Richmond, Hopkinton, Exeter) took part in the January 6 Trump-led coup attempt in Washington. 

We know that because he tweeted all about it until Twitter revoked his account. He claimed he didn’t go inside the Capitol but got close enough to definitely I.D. the rioters as Antifa.

Aside from the debunked Antifa bullshit, by his own admission, Price must have crossed police lines to get close enough to make his bogus ID. 

I want to know WHY Price failed to take action against what he perceived to be enemies of the state. As a rough, tough former Marine, he took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. How about it, Justin?

The feds are slowly but surely rounding up legislators who broke the law on January 6, as they did with West Virginia state Delegate Derrick Evans who received a three month prison sentence after pleading guilty to felony civil disorder. I am hoping that Price will also be called to account for his actions on January 6.

Drought prompts Westerly to order stop to water wasting

South Kingstown has had water restrictions in place for years, but now Westerly has decided that it too must stop water waste. Almost all of Rhode Island is suffering a “severe” drought. Only a small strip of the coast, including the south end of Charlestown is in “moderate” drought. See map, below.

Nonetheless, all of us should be mindful of wasting water since our wells are drawing on aquifers that count on rain to recharge.

In Westerly, wasteful uses include watering lawns, filling swimming and wading pools, washing houses, cars, sidewalks, and boats, etc. 

Westerly residents with even numbered addresses can use water without restriction on even numbered calendars; odd address numbers, odd days.

It’s a warning for the first offense but $100 if you do it again.

Aside from stressing trees and withering gardens, the drought also boosts the chance of wild fires.

Yeah, Republicans LOVE veterans

By Lalo Alcaraz

This really is sick

By Matt Davies

Personally, I'd rather have quality over quantity

Experts don't always give better advice -- they just give more

Association for Psychological Science

New research finds that people given advice by top performers thought that it helped them more, even though it usually didn't.

When you want advice to achieve something, whom would you rather ask: the top performer in that area or someone barely scraping by? 

Most people would choose the top performer. That person's advice, however, may not be any more helpful.

Here's a possible explanation for the high cost of fish

U.S. Senators Demand Federal Scrutiny of Private Equity’s Incursion Into Fishing

By Will Sennott, The New Bedford Light

Prices really are nuts! At local favorite, the Hitching Post, a lobster roll is
 $2 cheaper than a whole-bellied clam roll
Three U.S. senators, including two members of a Senate subcommittee that oversees the fishing industry, are calling for greater federal scrutiny of private equity’s incursion into East Coast commercial fishing.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, all Democrats, condemned lax government antitrust policies and weak enforcement of restrictions on foreign ownership in the fishing industry. They were responding to an investigation published July 6 by ProPublica and The New Bedford Light, which reported that companies linked to private equity firms and foreign investors now control an outsize share of the market for groundfish such as pollock, haddock and ocean perch and are pushing to expand into other parts of the industry. Under this new regime, the investigation found, labor conditions for local fishermen have deteriorated, as they work longer hours and bear a larger share of costs such as vessel maintenance.

Brown studies why some people don't want to get vaxxed

Study identifies barriers to COVID-19 vaccine uptake and the powerful influence of family and friends

Brown University 

Public health messages that promote COVID-19 vaccination rates at state, city and community levels may have less influence on vaccination decisions than the signals people receive from their own family and friends.

That’s according to a study published on the cover of the July 19 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Therefore, the most promising public health interventions to promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake should seek ways to leverage social norms among close ties, the findings assert.

“One of the takeaways is the importance of people’s perceptions of the intentions of the people around them,” said Nathaniel Rabb, a project manager at the Policy Lab at Brown University and the lead author of the study. “It lends further credence to the idea about changing disclosure norms. It’s likely given other survey data we’ve seen that in groups where vaccination is less common, people read the norms and talk about it less, even if they are vaccinated. It’s almost taboo.”

The research team posits there’s a feedback loop that needs to be disrupted, Rabb said.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Tribal rights taking a beating from this Supreme Court, too

Supreme Court reversed almost 200 years of US law and tradition upholding tribal sovereignty in its latest term

Kirsten Matoy CarlsonWayne State University

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. speaks
in Tahlequah, Okla. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling is upending decades
of law in support of tribes. AP Photo/Michael Woods
Over the past 50 years, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have increasingly diverged in how they view the laws that relate to Indian tribes. 

Congress has passed significant legislation that expands tribal governments’ sovereignty and control over their land, while the Supreme Court has ignored and reversed long-standing principles of federal Indian law that protected tribal sovereignty and prevented the states from exercising authority in Indian country.

This trend at the court was seen most recently in a ruling from late June, which, as one longtime court observer put it, wiped away “centuries of tradition and practice.” Justice Neil Gorsuch scorned the ruling in his dissent: “Truly, a more ahistorical and mistaken statement of Indian law would be hard to fathom.”

From my perspective as an expert in federal Indian law, the most recent case is noteworthy because it says that states may exercise authority in Indian Country even without express congressional authorization. For centuries, that was not the case.

Here’s the background:

Defending Donald

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE.


Seafood Festival Aug 5-7


Songbird can keep time with the best of them

Nature's sweet music

University of Texas at Austin

When it comes to keeping time, an unassuming species of songbird is on a par with professional musicians, according to new research led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.

The study is the first to investigate natural time-keeping ability of an animal in the wild rather than under observation in the lab, with scientists examining the song of the scaly-breasted wren, a small brown bird in Central and South America known for its whistle-like chirps.

The song of the wild birds demonstrated better time-keeping skills than those of mammals and birds trained in captivity. The results underscore the importance of studying animals in both the lab and in nature to get an accurate view of their abilities, said lead author Carlos Antonio Rodriguez-Saltos.

"We should use the power of biodiversity to understand these things while we still can," said Saltos, who conducted the research when he was a postdoctoral researcher at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences.

The results were published in Animal Behaviour. Jackson School Professor Julia Clarke co-authored the study.

Birds don't have songbooks. But some species sing the same tune, chirping notes in an identifiable pattern. For the scaly-breasted wren, the pattern goes like this: an opening blast of chirps followed by alternating intervals of chirps and pauses, with the pauses between each chirp getting progressively longer.

Space Station makes a 6-minute Charlestown overflight at 9:07 PM

Another shot to see the ISS
By Will Collette

space science tech GIF by European Space Agency - ESAThe International Space Station (ISS) has been in the news over the past week as Vladimir Putin makes it a political football in his war against Ukraine.

Russia says it will abandon the ISS in 2024, leaving the future of one of the few remaining examples of international cooperation and joint scientific exploration in doubt.

But still the ISS sails on and is a frequent visitor to Charlestown’s night-time sky. There have been several passes in the past week, but most were either short or on a cloudy night.

Tonight, the National Weather Service predicts tonight’s weather will be clear., perfect for a six-minute flight, which is close to the maximum time it takes for the ISS to silently transit the sky over Charlestown.

After dark at 9:07 PM, the ISS will appear for a 6-minute pass  at 10 degrees about the northwest horizon. It will arc up to 85 degrees almost directly above us as it heads south east where it will disappear at 19 degrees above the horizon around 9:13.

Celestial mechanics makes the ISS strictly follow these specifications.

Another threat to 2022 elections

A lack of paper

By Aaron Mendelson, The Center for Public Integrity

Each year, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project asks the Texas Secretary of State for about 25,000 voter registration applications, which it distributes as part of the organization’s efforts to empower Latinos to participate in the democratic process.

This year, the organization received a surprising response: There weren’t enough applications to go around. A sweeping change to Texas voter laws meant that entirely new forms had to be printed. Supply-chain issues slowed that print job, prompting Texas to ration applications.

A lack of paper forms is no trivial issue in Texas, the nation’s most populous state without widely-available online voter registration. Only when updating their driver’s license or state ID information can Texans register online. Otherwise, prospective voters have to fill out paper voter registration applications, then mail them to their county elections offices.

Texas Secretary of State spokesperson Sam Taylor said the situation earlier this year “was sort of like the perfect storm.” The forms had to be re-printed to comply with SB1, the new state law. That wiped out the agency’s back stock of registration forms. Only one vendor bid on the job to print the new ones, and that company had staffing shortages on top of the supply chain issues. What might otherwise have taken two weeks dragged on for two months.

Texas now has sufficient voter registration forms, Taylor said. But the episode points to the disruptions that supply-chain issues pose everywhere Americans will cast a ballot, at the same time that candidates continue to push falsehoods about the 2020 elections and new state laws threaten voter access.

Elections run on paper. Ballots, ballot envelopes and voter registration forms all require it, and often specialized paper stock and production are needed.

Elections have become more paper-based in recent years, not less, driven by the surge in mail voting and efforts to ensure that elections are secure. Snarls in the supply chain have pushed up costs — by 40 percent, one industry executive told a congressional committee in March — and delayed production times for paper. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

How Vaccine Foes Co-Opted the Abortion Rallying Cry

'My Body, My Choice’


Matt Dunham/AP Photo
In the shadow of L.A.’s art deco City Hall, musicians jammed onstage, kids got their faces painted, and families picnicked on lawn chairs. Amid the festivity, people waved flags, sported T-shirts, and sold buttons — all emblazoned with a familiar slogan: “My Body, My Choice.”

This wasn’t an abortion rights rally. It wasn’t a protest against the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gutted Roe v. Wade. It was the “Defeat the Mandates Rally,” a jubilant gathering of anti-vaccine activists in April to protest the few remaining covid-19 guidelines, such as mask mandates on mass transit and vaccination requirements for health care workers.

Similar scenes have played out across the country during the pandemic. Armed with the language of the abortion rights movement, anti-vaccine forces have converged with right-leaning causes to protest covid precautions.

And they’re succeeding. Vaccine opponents have appropriated “My Body, My Choice,” a slogan that has been inextricably linked to reproductive rights for nearly half a century, to fight mask and vaccine mandates across the country — including in California, where lawmakers had vowed to adopt the toughest vaccine requirements in the U.S.

As the anti-vaccine contingent has notched successes, the abortion rights movement has taken hit after hit, culminating in the June 24 Supreme Court decision that ended the federal constitutional right to abortion. The ruling leaves it up to states to decide, and up to 26 states are expected to ban or severely limit abortion in the coming months.

Now that anti-vaccination groups have laid claim to “My Body, My Choice,” abortion rights groups are distancing themselves from it — marking a stunning annexation of political messaging.

Never mind


Charlestown Historical Society's busy summer

New Logo


Historical Society



Schoolhouse & Museum ~ Summer 2022


Dear Members & Friends,


The summer season is upon us and the CHS Museum and 1838 Schoolhouse are open on Friday & Saturday mornings from 10:00 to 12:00. Two new displays have been added this year including original artifacts from the '38 Hurricane and an additional display of the WWII Charlestown Navel Air Field which was a major center for night-fighter training during the war, sending many young pilots off to the South Pacific. Did you know that George H.W. Bush was the youngest pilot to train at the Charlestown Naval Air Field? Come in and see what's new and share your own histories and memories of Charlestown.


Recent photo donations this summer from local family histories almost 100 years in the making are already contributing to new displays and records for the CHS Archive. We thank all who come forward to share and those who visit!


At 19 years of age, George H.W. Bush was the youngest pilot to train at the CNAF.


Construction of this airbase began in the early part of 1943, with enough completed by mid-year to being training and operations.

The personal 8-day diary of the '38 Hurricane of Mrs. Marion G. Wilson, owner of the General Stanton Inn from the 1930's through the 1950s. The Inn became the host of the RI Military during Martial Law immediately after the storm.






Historic Cemetery Care & Conservation


Over the course of the past few months, some much-needed care has been given to some of the aging and broken headstones at the historic Cross' Mills Common Burying Ground.


Pictured here are CHS Cemetery Chair Susan Angelo, and husband, Alan preparing a broken stone to be placed back into its site. Along with CHS member Jeff Burns, who also holds a position on the RI Historic Cemetery Commission, and other members who recently attended an all-day cemetery workshop, great care is given to these projects along with very specific materials necessary to accomplish these restorations.





Resetting the headstone after careful cleaning and preparation of both stone and earth.

Final Stage of Restoration




Amos Greene Revolutionary War Encampment


October 22, 2022

10:00 - 4:00



Amos Greene Farm Charlestown, RI



Mark your calendars for October 22, 2022, when once again muskets will be fired in anger as our Patriots and their French allies clash with the British and Loyalists on the historic muster grounds of Charlestown's scenic Amos Greene Farm. Colorful uniforms, musket fire and live fife and drum music will transport you back to the days when Amos Greene prepared to defend his farm. There will be marching and musket drills culminating in a skirmish as the British are driven from the farm.


You can also tour Amos' 1760 homestead, watch displays of Colonial crafts, visit Amos' cemetery, see a working field hospital, learn about soldiers' uniforms and take in a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Bring the whole family and enjoy a picturesque and memorable afternoon. More to come as the time draws near on CHS Facebook!