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Sunday, December 31, 2023

What progress in Charlestown looks like

Charlestown’s 2023 was busy but productive

By Deborah Carney, Charlestown Town Council President

Charlestown is a wonderful town with great people, beaches, parks, open spaces, businesses, and low taxes.

The Town Council and the town’s dedicated staff have had a busy and productive year!

We improved transparency and open government by holding two regular monthly meetings of reasonable length instead of one lengthy meeting, permitting more in-depth review of agenda items. 

We now require detailed minutes instead of a cursory reporting, to provide informed transparency and historical recording.

We returned a voice to the people of Charlestown by reinstating the Charter Revision Advisory Committee to a “standing committee,” providing a vehicle for residents to seek charter changes. 

The committee’s recommendations/suggestions for changes are due this spring. The council will then decide which recommendations should be placed on the ballot for the voters.

The council established an Ordinance Review Ad Hoc Committee to review and update Charlestown’s ordinances, some of which are outdated, unconstitutional or in violation of state law. 

This comprehensive review, with the assistance of General Code, is the first in approximately 20 years and was sorely overdue.

Through the Town Council Rules and Procedures, the council also guaranteed all councilors equal rights to place items on an agenda, without veto, reversing prior policy.

The Town Council contracted with Charlestown Ambulance Rescue Service, which, beginning in July of 2024, will provide critical funding for continued high-quality emergency services. 

This arrangement alleviates residents from paying directly for emergency services and ensures that CARS remains adequately staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Town Council and town staff are collaboratively examining possible improvements to provide safer travel for pedestrians and bikers along Charlestown Beach Road. No decisions have yet been made and all suggestions will be considered.

Recent discussions in Charlestown have centered on the required Ninigret Park Master Plan Update, which is five years past due. Contrary to online postings, the Town Council has not yet received the updated plan from the design consultant. 

Further, the Town Council has not endorsed any construction plan for Ninigret Park, let alone one for $20 to $30 million, as has been rumored online. 

It is important to note that the Master Plan is simply a planning guideline for possible future park improvements. The Town Council’s review of the consultant’s suggestions is anticipated to begin early in 2024.

This upcoming year, the council will also discuss the possibility of Ninigret Park becoming the first stop on a newly created whimsical “Troll Trail,” an installation by internationally known artist Thomas Dambo, which would be sponsored by the South County Tourism Council. 

The trolls are proposed to be created by collaboration between the artist and local tradespersons and would provide a year-round attraction, at no cost to the town.

In 2023, the council hired a new town administrator, Jeffrey Allen, Charlestown’s former police chief. Mr. Allen brings with him a firsthand knowledge and understanding of Charlestown and a personal interest in working to make Charlestown an even better place to live.

In addition to Mr. Allen, the town also welcomed newcomers Patrick Gormley, Jill Cuddy, Kristen Hemphill, Jan Lombardo, Drew Perry, Shirell Perry and Jim Stepalavich to our staff. We said goodbye to retirees Don Black, Lt. Kevin Kidd, Michele Voislow and Kim Wheeler and thank them for their dedicated service.

Charlestown’s challenges for 2024 include filling its volunteer opportunities, particularly in its fire districts. For more information visit or send an email to

Affordable workforce rental housing and homeownership for families, in the face of rising real estate valuations, will continue to be daunting, but must be addressed.

As always, the Town Council encourages residents to apply for positions on boards and committees, attend Town Council meetings and/or view them via the town’s website at

We encourage our residents to reach out with comments, questions, and suggestions. By working together, we can accomplish many things in 2024.

Child abuse

A cartoon by Mike Luckovich

Let's do it now!

Shut off the damned phone

Switching off from work has never been harder, or more necessary

Jane GifkinsGriffith University

Apple TV+
In the hit dystopian TV series Severance, employees at biotech corporation Lumon Industries find it easy to separate work and home life. A computer chip is inserted in their brains to act as a “mindwipe”. They leave all thoughts of home behind while at work, and completely forget about their work when at home.

While the show explores the pitfalls of such a split in consciousness, there’s no denying it’s a tantalizing prospect to be able to “flick the off switch” and forget about work whenever you’re not actually supposed to be working.

This is known as “psychological detachment”. People who can do it are happier and healthier, and experience less fatigue. But many of us struggle to detach and disconnect mentally from work, particularly when our jobs are demanding and stressful.

It may not be enough simply to be physically away from work, particularly in an era when so many of us work from home. We also have to stop thinking about work when we’re not there – whether it’s fretting over your to-do list while out at dinner, thinking about your unanswered emails while you’re at your daughter’s soccer game, or lying in bed pondering what you’ll say at tomorrow’s board meeting.

Why Aren’t More People Buying Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids?

Price, confidence, reliability and consumer education all need to be improved

By Esther Landhuis

When Frank Lin was in junior high, his grandma started wearing hearing aids. During dinner conversations, she was often painfully silent, and communicating by phone was nearly impossible. As a kid, Lin imagined “what her life would be like if she wasn’t always struggling to communicate.”

It was around that time that Lin became interested in otolaryngology, the study of the ears, nose, and throat. He would go on to study to be an ENT physician, which, he hoped, could equip him to help patients with similar age-related hardships.

Those aspirations sharpened during his residency at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the late 2000s. Administering hearing tests in the clinic, Lin noticed that his colleagues had vastly different reactions to the same results in young versus old patients. 

If mild deficits showed up in a kid, “it would be like, ‘Oh, that hearing is critically important,’” said Lin, who today is the director of the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at Hopkins. But when they saw that same mild to moderate hearing loss in a 70-something patient, many would downplay the findings.

Yet today, research increasingly suggests that untreated hearing loss puts people at higher risk for cognitive decline and dementia. And, unlike during Lin’s early training, many patients can now do something about it: They can assess their own hearing using online tests or mobile phone apps, and purchase over-the-counter hearing aids, which are generally more affordable their predecessors and came under regulation by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2022.

Despite this expanded accessibility, interest in direct-to-consumer hearing devices has lagged thus far — in part, experts suggest, due to physician inattention to adult hearing health, inadequate insurance coverage for hearing aids, and lingering stigma around the issue. (As Lin put it: “There’s always been this notion that everyone has it as you get older, how can it be important?”) Even now, hearing tests aren’t necessarily recommended for individuals unless they report a problem.

Meanwhile, interest has surged in other consumer audio products that are less expensive than most hearing aids and have features that may help with mild hearing loss: wearable devices like Apple’s AirPods and Sony’s LinkBuds. And this fall, the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group representing the $505 billion U.S. consumer technology industry, released a standard metric for consumer electronics products to report a person’s hearing status. 

Saturday, December 30, 2023

What will it take to change Republicans’ minds about the climate crisis?



Cartoon by Tom Toles from the Washington Post
Rome is burning. Republicans are twiddling their thumbs.

Scientists are loathe to give too much significance to one event, but we’re not talking about one event anymore.

“This is climate change,” Michael Mann, a geophysicist and professor of environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania, put it bluntly. 

“We’re seeing it now in all of its forms in…the wildfires in Canada, what happened in Maui, the flooding rains that we’re now seeing in California, you see greater extremes at both ends of the spectrum.”

Just don’t expect these recent disasters — or, for that matter, a consistent cascade of future precedent-setting fires, floods, snowstorms, hurricanes or droughts — to move Republicans’ minds about the role of climate change.

Consider an August analysis from the Pew Research Center.

While the percentage of Democrats describing climate change as a major threat to the country’s well-being rose from 58 percent to 78 percent over the last decade, the share of Republicans who consider climate change a major threat barely budged over the same time period, rising from 22 percent to 23 percent, per Pew.

The fact that Republicans’ opinions haven’t changed over the last 10 years is startling when you take stock of the objective signs of a changing climate during this same period.

Another Republican lie gets busted

Another congratulations to Wood River Health

Wood River Health earns gold in health care delivery

Wood River Health has been recognized by the Health Resources & Services Administration as a Health Center Quality Leader, which is awarded to only 10% of community health care centers in the United States. This credential demonstrates that Wood River Health is a model for excellence in health care delivery and a leader in the promotion of community well-being.

“This year, Wood River Health was awarded the 2023 Health Center Quality Leader (HCQL) Gold badge. Only 149 health centers in the country received this recognition in 2023,” stated Wood River Health’s President and CEO Alison L. Croke, MHA. 

“This accomplishment was achievable because all of our departments work as a team to provide the highest quality of care for the members of our community.  This team includes both the clinicians who work face-to-face with patients and families, as well as the clinical data analysts who work behind the scenes to ensure our data and reporting are accurate.” 

AI is already causing us harm

New research warns AI needs to be better understood and managed


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and algorithms have the capability and are currently being utilized to exacerbate radicalization, enhance polarization, and disseminate racism and political instability, according to an academic from Lancaster University.

Joe Burton, a professor of International Security at Lancaster University, contends that AI and algorithms are more than mere tools used by national security agencies to thwart malicious online activities. He suggests that they can also fuel polarization, radicalism, and political violence, thereby becoming a threat to national security themselves.

Further to this, he says, securitization processes (presenting technology as an existential threat) have been instrumental in how AI has been designed, used and to the harmful outcomes it has generated.

Friday, December 29, 2023


Drew Panckeri 


SUNDAY: Charlestown's famous New Year's Eve bonfire!

'Tis the Season to Recycle your Christmas Tree

DEM Collecting 'Trees for Trout' to Improve Wild Trout, Aquatic Habitats

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is again partnering with the Rhode Island Chapter of Trout Unlimited (TU) on a habitat restoration program called ‘Trees for Trout’, which collects donated conifer Christmas trees for future projects that improve habitat for wild brook trout and other aquatic organisms. 

The public is invited to drop off their Christmas tree at a collection event after the New Year.

What:                ‘Trees for Trout’ Christmas tree collection

When:               Saturday, Jan. 6, 9 AM-2 PM

Where:              Arcadia Check Station, Wood River Arcadia Management Area, 2224 Ten Rod Rd, Exeter

DEM is only accepting real trees, not fake ones or trees sprayed with fire-retardant chemicals. All decorations and lights, as well as the stand, must be removed before the tree is brought in. Only whole conifers will be accepted, please do not bring tree trimmings.

It's their job.

Senate panel can’t decide best way to reform R.I.’s voting system in primaries

By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current

In a poetic twist, the Rhode Island Senate panel reviewing alternative voting methods to improve Rhode Island primary elections couldn’t choose a single winner.

The seven-member commission concluded its 10-month review without a clear consensus on which – if any – alternative was the best way to reform Rhode Island general office and legislative primaries, according to its final report published Tuesday. 

“If the commission had united around one reform, then it would have facilitated passage of legislation to deal with this problem,” Sen. Sam Zurier, a Providence Democrat and commission chairman, said in an interview on Wednesday. “This is not an easy issue to resolve and there are pros and cons to each of the alternatives.”

Zurier liked the following two of the four options considered for elections when no electoral candidate receives at least 50% of the vote.

A top-two, nonpartisan primary: The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance from the primary to a general election, ensuring one candidate wins with a majority of the vote.

Ranked-choice voting: Voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one reaches 51% of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated from the race, and voters who picked that candidate have their second choices tallied instead. The process repeats until someone wins a majority.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The AI-Robot Wars

Is Dystopian Science Fiction Becoming a Reality?

TOM VALOVIC for Common Dreams

Have you ever felt like you’re living in a badly produced B science fiction movie? I know I do. When I started writing about the dark side of emerging technologies 30 years ago in Digital Mythologies, I called out some of the “mad science” being done at MIT. 

This included the work of Marvin Minsky and Hans Moravec --- fringe thinking that, at the time, seemed fortunately contained in a fairly narrow segment of the scientific community. I never dreamed that their bizarre and unsettling ideas about merging humans with computers and creating hybrid humans would actually become widely accepted in technology circles or that powerful corporations would engage in making these ideas a reality. 

Alarmingly, this is now happening and it’s deeply disturbing.

It was the poet Allen Ginsberg who said that we’re “living in science fiction”. His statement was deeply prophetic. We’re now in the midst of a Technology Takeover, pointing toward a world of technocratic governance and complete dependency on tech giants and the systems they control. 

The corporations behind it are the most powerful ones on the planet. You know the names: Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Meta, Tesla/SpaceX and others. Among the individuals behind some of these companies are the four richest and most powerful people on the planet: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. 

In a more generous frame of mind, we might call them the masters of the universe but perhaps a more apt description might be the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

There are a plethora of sanguine articles oozing out of the mainstream press about the “promise of AI.” Many of them follow the same basic template as if scripted from talking points. 

The semantic parsing is something like this: “AI has the potential to radically change our lives for the better but we have to be careful to use it well as it has some potential for negative use.” 

This is the self-same template that has been used for many other high-profile technology advances including the development of nuclear and genetic engineering capabilities.

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here as there’s no room for equivocation. Robots and AI are taking over our culture, our politics, our way of life and our relationships to each other as social beings. 

They’re becoming the front guard for a new and unprecedented technocratic form of governance which represents the apotheosis of Western scientific materialism. Further, these new forms of governance are being carried out by unelected officials operating behind the scenes and in the backrooms of a mediated society well out of public view. 

The reality is that technocratic governance is fundamentally anti-democratic and lays the groundwork for a kind of authoritarianism that many of our experts in political science are unequipped to recognize and explain.

Live long and prosper

For more cartoons by Tom Tomorrow, CLICK HERE

David Ostow

"Now do you believe me?"

Hypochondriacs die earlier than those who worry less about their health

Stephen HughesAnglia Ruskin University 

People who worry excessively about their health tend to die earlier than those who don’t, a recent study from Sweden has found. 

It seems strange that hypochondriacs who, by definition, worry yet have nothing wrong with them, should enjoy shorter lifespans than the rest of us. Let’s find out more.

First, a word about terminology. The term “hypochondriac” is fast becoming pejorative. Instead, we medical professionals are encouraged to use the term illness anxiety disorder (IAD). So, to avoid triggering our more sensitive readership, we ought to use this term.

We can define IAD as a mental health condition characterized by excessive worry about health, often with an unfounded belief that a serious medical condition is present. It may be associated with frequent visits to a doctor, or it may involve avoiding them altogether on the grounds that a real and quite possibly fatal condition might be diagnosed.

The latter variant strikes me as quite rational. A hospital is a dangerous place and you can die in a place like that.

IAD can be quite debilitating. A person with the condition will spend a lot of time worrying and visiting clinics and hospitals. It is costly to health systems because of time and diagnostic resources used and is quite stigmatizing.

Busy healthcare professionals would much rather spend time treating people with “real conditions” and can often be quite dismissive. So can the public.

Pope Francis makes a call for peace

Pope Decries Arms Industry Profits for Pulling 'Puppet Strings of War'

JON QUEALLY for Common Dreams

Pope Francis condemned the global arms industry for its role in the ongoing slaughter in the Gaza Strip and called for peace worldwide during his Christmas blessing from Vatican City on Monday, mourning the children killed and displaced by war, which he called the "little Jesuses of today," in occupied Palestine and elsewhere.

Citing conflicts across the globe in his annual Urbi et Orbi ("To the City and World") message, the Pope told his Catholic followers that war is "an aimless voyage, a defeat without victors, an inexcusable folly" and that "saying 'no' to war means saying 'no' to weaponry" provided to humanity by the global arms industry.

"The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them," he warned. "And how can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales, and trade are on the rise?"

Francis compared the global expenditures on weapons—which according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reached upwards of $2.2 trillion last year—with the failure of governments to fund social goods like efforts to fight hunger, homelessness, and poverty.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Creator of Godwin's Law Says It's OK—and Necessary—to Compare Trump to Hitler

Green light for Hitler and Donald Trump analogies


The creator of Godwin's Law—an adage that says Adolf Hitler comparisons become increasingly likely as Internet arguments drag on—argued in a Washington Post op-ed Thursday that his rule in no way discredits efforts to draw parallels between the Nazi dictator and former President Donald Trump.

"Those of us who hope to preserve our democratic institutions need to underscore the resemblance before we enter the twilight of American democracy," wrote attorney and author Mike Godwin. 

"And that's why Godwin's Law isn't violated—or confirmed—by the Biden reelection campaign's criticism of Trump's increasingly unsubtle messaging. We had the luxury of deriving humor from Hitler and Nazi comparisons when doing so was almost always hyperbole. It's not a luxury we can afford anymore."

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden's 2024 reelection campaign posted to social media a graphic (see above) likening Trump's recent rhetoric—including his statement that immigrants are "poisoning the blood of our country"—to Hitler's and arguing that the similarities are "not a coincidence."

Sounds like the Charlestown Citizens Alliance's 2024 platform

For more cartoons by Ruben Bolling, CLICK HERE


Stop ignoring the issue

The Surprising Connection Between the Environment and Mental Health

Environmental threats CAN make you anxious, and for good reason 

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman

The environment can positively impact mental health. Natural outdoor environments, especially surrounding greenness, were statistically significantly tied to better mental health. People associate better mental health with green spaces. 

One study noted that the natural environment impacts our mental health. But do environmental issues such as global warming cause climate anxiety and negatively impact mental health?

A Silent Threat to Mental Health

Researchers find links between environmental problems and mental health. An Australian study found a link between dryland salinity and depression. That indicates that environmental processes might be the driver behind the degree of mental health issues in Australian populations experiencing ecosystem degradation.

Children are the most vulnerable among us. There is a link between mental health issues in children and air pollution exposure, researchers found. In one study, researchers looked at exposure to air pollution among 284 children in London. 

They assessed symptoms of anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder at ages 12 and 18. While they found no association between pollution exposure and mental health issues at 12, they did find a link between depression and exposure at 18. 

Another study found an association between psychiatric disorders in children and air pollution exposure. Children are also more affected than adults by natural disasters, and they are more likely to experience trauma-related symptoms.

Researchers looked at 15 years’ worth of data on mental health and environmental degradation. They found that research on mental health and environmental challenges is increasing. The major topics are climate change, chemical pollution, including psychiatric medication in wastewater, and neurobiological effects. 

Research on links between mental health, climate change, pollution, and deforestation is also increasing.

Natural disasters can cause mild stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, the American Psychiatry Association notes. The mental health of first responders responding to natural disasters is affected both short and long-term. They are often also victims.

Heat affects health, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke. However, prolonged heat also affects mental health. People who have mental illness do not tolerate heat well, namely because their medications often cause an intolerance to heat. Heatwaves can cause some to increase their use of alcohol to cope with stress. 

One study found that an increase of one to six degrees Celsius could cause an additional 283 to 1,660 suicides in the U.S. Another study found that extreme high temperatures increase negative emotions.

Climate change affects mental health. A paper by the American Psychological Association cited “increased levels of stress and distress” from climate change, such as extreme weather events, as impacting mental health.

The Rise of Climate Anxiety

Searches for the term “climate anxiety” increased by 565 percent in 2021. More and more mental health professionals see the symptoms of climate change anxiety in their patients. 

Sarah Lowe is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Yale School of Public Health. Lowe defines climate anxiety as “fundamental distress about climate change and its impacts on the landscape and human existence.”

Climate anxiety manifests as worries about future disasters or the future of the world and humanity. However, it can also lead to physical symptoms that include heart palpitations and shortness of breath–classic anxiety symptoms. Climate anxiety can affect someone’s social relationships and how they function.

A national survey found that 10 percent of participants reported symptoms of anxiety because of climate change. Nearly as many reported experiencing symptoms of depression because of climate change. 

Most participants said they were at least “somewhat worried” about climate change, and 27 percent said they were “very worried.” Eight percent said they are discussing their feelings about climate change with a therapist.   

Gina-Marie Cheeseman Cheeseman, freelance writer/journalist/copyeditor Twitter: @gmcheeseman

High Speed Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Coming to Rhode Island Interstate Corridor

Ashaway rest area is nearest to Charlestown

By Uprise RI Staff

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources recently announced the start of construction on the state’s first two electric vehicle (EV) DC Fast Charging stations located along the Interstate 95 corridor. 

The new charging stations will be installed at the Ashaway Park & Ride and the Route 117 Park & Ride in Warwick as part of Phase 1 of Rhode Island’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Program.

The Ashaway and Warwick Park & Ride locations will each house two DC Fast Chargers capable of charging an EV up to 80% in 20-40 minutes. The ultra-fast chargers are considered “future proof”, meaning they can charge new EVs coming to market for years to come. 

With many automakers pledging to go fully electric over the next 10-15 years, Rhode Island officials want to ensure adequate charging infrastructure is available across major travel corridors.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Trump's dementia should be front-page news

He's More Unhinged and Delusional Than Ever

ROBERT REICH in Robertreich.Substack.Com

On Saturday, during a campaign speech in Durham, New Hampshire, Donald Trump invoked Vladimir Putin (of all people) as proof that he’s being persecuted:

“Putin says that Biden’s — and this is a quote — politically motivated persecution of his political rival is very good for Russia, because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.”

Some commentators see this and other Trump assertions about being persecuted as calculated efforts to fuel his base.

But what if Trump really thinks he’s being persecuted? What if he has a persecution complex? What if he believes his paranoid fantasies?

Trump is not facing nearly the same scrutiny for his age as is Joe Biden, yet Trump should be — especially as to increasing signs of dementia.

Biden is sane. He’s getting major bills passed. He’s negotiating with world leaders.

But Trump — who has a family history of dementia — is increasingly incoherent and unhinged.

He has confused Biden with Obama so often that he’s had to put out a statement that the slips have been intentional.

In September, Trump suggested that the way to prevent wildfires in California’s forest lands is to keep them damp. Here are his exact words:

“They say that there’s so much water up north that I want to have the overflow areas go into your forests and dampen your forests, because if you dampen your forests you're not gonna have these forest fires that are burning at levels that nobody’s ever seen.”


He also said that under his administration, shoplifters would be subject to extrajudicial execution.

“We will immediately stop all the pillaging and theft. Very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store.”

In October, Trump warned his supporters that Biden will lead America into World War Two.

He has also claimed that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group, is “very smart.” That whales are being killed by windmills. That he won all 50 states in 2020. That he defeated Barack Obama in 2016. That the outgoing chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed. That MSNBC’s parent company is guilty of treason, and will “pay.” And that he will only be a dictator on “Day 1” of a new term.

The most telling evidence of Trump’s growing dementia is found in his paranoid thirst for revenge, on which he is now centering his entire campaign.

On November 11, he pledged to a crowd of supporters in Claremont, New Hampshire, that:

“We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections and will do anything possible — they’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American dream.”

Are these the words of a sane person? Or of an aging paranoid megalomaniac? Even if it’s unclear to which category Trump belongs, shouldn’t this question be central to the coverage of his campaign for reelection?

When I’ve asked members of the media why they’re not covering the increasing signs of Trump’s dementia, they say it’s “old news.”

After all, back in 2017, 27 psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals concluded in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump that Trump’s mental health posed a “clear and present danger” to the nation.

Members of Trump’s own Cabinet — horrified by the January 6, 2021, violence at the Capitol and Trump's lack of urgency in stopping it — discussed whether to invoke the the 25th Amendment to remove him from office due to mental incompetence.

But just because Trump has shown mental instability in the past doesn’t make his mental problems any less relevant now that he is seeking reelection. They’re more relevant. He appears even more delusional and unhinged than before.

If Biden’s age is fair game, why aren’t Trump’s age and apparent mental decline?

Biden may appear frail at times, but he’s rational. The growing evidence of Trump’s dementia and paranoia, on the other hand, poses a potential danger to the future of America — if he’s reelected. At the least, the media should be investigating and reporting on it.

© 2021

ROBERT REICH is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. His book include: "Aftershock" (2011), "The Work of Nations" (1992), "Beyond Outrage" (2012) and, "Saving Capitalism" (2016). He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good" (2019). He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.



In case you missed it: Donald Trump's perfectly normal Christmas message


Does COVID Vaccination Increase Your Risk of Miscarriage?

New Research Says No


Numerous studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility or increase the risk of pregnancy-related issues, including miscarriages. 

Despite this evidence, people are still wary of potential negative impacts of the vaccine on pregnancy.

Recently, a study conducted by researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) has offered more comprehensive information about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for individuals who are considering pregnancy.

Published in the journal Human Reproduction, the study found no increased risk of early or late miscarriage as a result of male or female partners getting a COVID-19 vaccine prior to conceiving.

The wheelchair repair system is broken

For example, why should a wheelchair-bound person need an insurance pre-authorization to get their chair fixed?

By Jim Langevin, Rhode Island Current

I have been a power wheelchair user for over 40 years. My chair is custom configured to my specific needs, and I rely on it for my mobility and independence.

It helps me do my job effectively, to socialize with colleagues, friends, and family, and to live more actively in my community. When my wheelchair needs repairs I want it, no, I need it, repaired as soon as possible.

Many of the organizations involved in the process of providing repairs on complex power wheelchairs have been under fire by consumers for long wait times and insufficient customer service when it comes to repairs on their wheelchairs. 

As I have dug into this issue, I have come to learn of the tremendous complexity and bureaucracy built into the system and the need for reform of this broken process to allow repairs on complex power wheelchairs to happen more quickly.

First, we must eliminate the burdensome administrative requirements in place delaying wheelchair repair, such as insurance prior authorization, duplicative documentation, and other unnecessary hurdles. 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Can we all just get along?


Clarence Thomas wanted more money so his rightwing pals gave it to him

A “Delicate Matter”

by Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, Alex Mierjeski and Brett Murphy for ProPublica

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decades long friendship with real estate tycoon Harlan Crow and Samuel Alito’s luxury travel with billionaire Paul Singer have raised questions about influence and ethics at the nation's highest court.

In early January 2000, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was at a five-star beach resort in Sea Island, Georgia, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

After almost a decade on the court, Thomas had grown frustrated with his financial situation, according to friends. He had recently started raising his young grandnephew, and Thomas’ wife was soliciting advice on how to handle the new expenses. The month before, the justice had borrowed $267,000 from a friend to buy a high-end RV.

At the resort, Thomas gave a speech at an off-the-record conservative conference. He found himself seated next to a Republican member of Congress on the flight home. The two men talked, and the lawmaker left the conversation worried that Thomas might resign.

Congress should give Supreme Court justices a pay raise, Thomas told him. If lawmakers didn’t act, “one or more justices will leave soon” — maybe in the next year.

At the time, Thomas’ salary was $173,600, equivalent to over $300,000 today. But he was one of the least wealthy members of the court, and on multiple occasions in that period, he pushed for ways to make more money. In other private conversations, Thomas repeatedly talked about removing a ban on justices giving paid speeches.

Thomas’ efforts were described in records from the time obtained by ProPublica, including a confidential memo to Chief Justice William Rehnquist from a top judiciary official seeking guidance on what he termed a “delicate matter.”

The documents, as well as interviews, offer insight into how Thomas was talking about his finances in a crucial period in his tenure, just as he was developing his relationships with a set of wealthy benefactors.

How to strengthen primary care in Rhode Island?

Start with this action plan

By Jonny Williams, Rhode Island Current

Time is money, so goes the saying. But not all time is worth the same — just ask a doctor in Rhode Island.

For a new patient visit — about 15 to 30 minutes long — Rhode Island physicians get reimbursed by Medicare $75.05, according to the federal insurance’s fee schedule. Cross over to Connecticut and that visit will bag physicians in that state $77.93. Physicians in metro Boston enjoy a higher rate: $81.64.

The differences may seem inconsequential, but over time they can cost providers and health care systems millions of dollars.

For every primary care provider South County Hospital employed in fiscal year 2023, it lost about $280,000. In total, the hospital lost approximately $4 million, according to figures provided by South County Health, the health system that operates the 100-bed hospital in Wakefield.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Trump Supreme Court Justices about to pay off their billionaire patrons?


The path to the best possible Christmas

Revolutionizing Green Energy

A new hydrogen fuel cell breakthrough


A breakthrough in hydrogen fuel cell technology, achieved through collaborative research, has substantially lowered costs by replacing platinum metals with silver in catalysts, marking a significant step towards affordable and efficient green energy storage.

As the global shift towards renewable energy sources gains momentum, there arises a crucial challenge: how to store energy effectively for periods when solar and wind power aren’t available.

One leading contender, the hydrogen fuel cell, just got a big boost, thanks to fundamental research stemming from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryStanford University, and the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), that was recently translated to practice in a fuel cell device via a collaboration between Stanford and Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Where did Trump put it?

Binder of classified documents on Russian election interference missing since Trump left White House

By Mark Sumner for Daily Kos

Monte Wolverton, Battle Ground, WA
When the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August 2022, they found over 100 classified documents that Donald Trump was still hiding at various locations around the resort, including that infamous stack of boxes in a bathroom

However, even though what was recovered included some national security documents classified at the very highest level, that doesn’t mean the FBI found everything it was looking for.

Along with the documents, the FBI found empty folders that carried markings showing they had once held other classified documents. Some of the documents that were missing from those folders were sensitive enough that their titles or topics have still not been revealed.

But more than a dozen sources told CNN that there’s one fat binder of information that has been the target of a lengthy search since Trump left office. 

That binder contains critical documents concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election and the beginnings of the FBI investigation into connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign. 

The binder was in the White House days before Trump packed up to leave. It was the subject of a hurried last-minute effort to declassify and release documents. But minutes before President Joe Biden took over, it disappeared.

CNN reports that the vanishing binder put intelligence officials on high alert.