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Monday, July 4, 2022

Charlestown Chunks #6: Fourth of July edition

Another COVID summer, but who cares?

By Will Collette

What no one wants to hear

Rhode Island’s infection rate for COVID is more than 10 times higher than it was a year ago: around 160 per 100,000 a day compared to only 14 a day last July 4. But the actual infection rate is FAR higher, thanks to our gormless twit of a governor McKee who has dismantled state testing operations. The prevalence of at-home self-tests whose results are not included in the official infection tally also masks the true number of new infections.

But no one seems to care, especially not McKee who loves the idea that people are going around maskless while shopping in his beloved small businesses. 

It’s madness but apparently we have made an unconscious, collective decision to ignore a disease that has already killed over one million Americans or roughly the entire population of the state of Rhode Island.

You’re next, Justin

Screen shot from WPRI
Another Rhode Island right-wing nut has been busted for his role in the January 6 storming of the Capitol. Bernard Sirr, 47, of North Kingstown was arraigned on June 29 on federal felony charges of civil disorder.

Sirr works at Rhode Island’s ONLY operating nuclear reaction, the RI Nuclear Science Center on URI’s Bay campus.

According to the Boston Globe:

“Sirr works as a facility engineer at the Rhode Island Nuclear Science Center. The FBI confirmed that Sirr was on leave from his place of employment from Jan. 5 to Jan. 7, 2021.”

Bet you didn’t know we have an operating nuke in Rhode Island. The last time we ran a story on it was in 2014. The nuke is only 12 miles to the east of Charlestown. It’s tiny compared to the Millstone nuke just outside of New London, around 20 miles upwind from Charlestown.

Anyway, Sirr is the second Rhode Island recently busted for Trump’s January 6 coup attempt. I am still hoping to see Rep. Justin Price hauled away in cuffs. 

Price admitted he was there and claimed to be close enough to see that the mob was being led by Antifa (he says, without a shred of evidence).

 That’s close enough to be way over the police lines at the Capitol, warranting charges based on his own Twitter claims.

Mystic Aquarium says belugas would have died anyway

In May 2021, Mystic Aquarium airlifted five beluga whales from “Marineland,” a SeaWorld-style Park in Canada, to Mystic for “research.” Two of the whales died and a third is still in critical care.

Mystic has come under sharp criticism. Friends of Animals, an animal advocacy organization, has filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Agriculture seeking a federal investigation and sanctions.

I’ve stopped running any of Mystic’s news releases and notices in Progressive Charlestown, pending an outcome to this investigation.

Mystic Aquarium, citing its own internal pathology reports, claims those reports show it is blameless because the whales would have died anyway of pre-existing conditions.

True or not, that raises the question whether anyone checked the whales before they were put through the trauma of the long flight.

True or not, there is the question of why such intelligent creatures, whose brain to body mass ratio is higher than humans, are kept in small water enclosures with windows for bratty kids to bang on. Is it ethical? Is it moral to conduct “research” on these amazing creatures?

I appreciate Mystic’s marine animal rescue program and much of the educational work they do, but I can’t support this. Neither should you.

Magaziner shareholder activism scores another win

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, hopefully our Second District member of Congress after the November election, announced major reforms at web giant Pinterest to resolve a culture of gender and race discrimination.

Seth had filed suit on behalf of RI’s public pension fund to force a change in Pinterest’s practices and won a settlement where the company pledged $50 million for reforms designed to protect employees from discriminatory treatment and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

This is another example of socially-responsible investing that Magaziner introduced to push companies to not only change bad practices, but increase company value – and shareholder return – in the process.

I hope our next General Treasurer will continue these practices.

General Stanton flea market returns with new up-scale look

The new owners of Charlestown’s historical centerpiece, the General Stanton Inn, are not only bringing a new style to the Inn, but also its flea market.

You should read the nice write-up appearing in Rhode Island Monthly that describes the changes – new look, new vendors, new merchandise and a new name,  the General’s Market.

I hope it works out for them.

Bad beach water

💩We’re only a couple of weeks into official summertime and we’ve already had a couple of local beach closures for unhealthy levels of e-coli in the water. The first closure was at Camp Watchaug on the Pond, run by the Westerly YMCA. The second was Ninigret Park Beach.

Both closures were temporary and the beaches were re-opened. While we could blame animals and birds for the closures, humans also add run-off from septic systems and bad hygiene habits by swimmers. I’m talking to you, kids at Camp Watchaug – no swimming for you if you poop in the pond!

You can check for beach closures HERE.

California dreaming

The Coast Guard House's version
Seems that the Boston Globe is trying to stir up a fight between Rhode Island and California….over calamari.

According to the Globe, Monterey, CA is calling itself the “Calamari Capital” for its large squid catch (45 million pounds compared to Rhode Island’s 28 million) and haute cuisine way of preparing and serving it.

And all that is great. I like seafood in general and squid in particular, especially since it’s both sustainable and relatively inexpensive. I love Rhode Island’s version and I’m sure Monterey’s versions are great, too. I’ve eaten a lot of California seafood and can’t recall ever having had a bad meal.

Squid is a major part of Rhode Island’s maritime economy, so I hope this little rivalry stirs up more interest among shoppers and diners. Mangia!

Turkey Talk

Dunkin turkey (Brooke Bourget)
A wild turkey has been hanging out at the Dunkin Donuts on Route 3 in West Greenwich, attracting a lot of attention and a sharp scolding from DEM.

Turkeys do that. We’ve had several summers where we’ve been visited by a lone turkey, almost always a young Tom who has apparently been booted from his flock by the senior Tom.

They hang around, usually minding their own business and being cute. Our visitors usually strut into our woods, presumably to eat or sleep – I don’t want to disturb so I don’t follow.

But the turkey at the Dunk has stirred up some public debate with one side saying the bird will die from eating crap and others saying that donuts will give it lots of body fat to make it through the winter.

DEM has weighed in authoritatively:

Here's a young turkey who spent the summer with us getting
ready to fly off our deck (photo by Will Collette)
"Rhode Islanders should never intentionally feed turkeys – feeding wildlife is illegal in Rhode Island not only because of this risk to turkeys, but it can also lead to conflicts between humans and wildlife, increase the risk of disease and lead to unsustainable populations of wildlife. Feeding turkeys, either directly or indirectly, can cause turkeys to become tame and can lead to bold or aggressive behavior around humans."

Well, I don’t feed the turkeys and do accept DEM’s superior knowledge about how to treat our wild neighbors. I like having them around and love watching them. The last thing I want to do is damage their health. But lighten up, DEM...turkeys will do what turkeys want to do.