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Monday, February 26, 2024

Thank you for your service.


 

Electronics Recycling in Charlestown on Saturday, March 2

Safely dispose of old electronics, electrical appliances, wires, etc.

Indie Cycle owner Phyllis Hutnak (photo by Will Collette)
Put it on your calendar and start collecting all your unused stuff!

Charlestown Mini Super and Indie Cycle, LLC will hold an electronic waste drop off event on Saturday, March 2 from 9 AM until noon at the Mini-Super located on 4071 Old Post Road.

The drop off event is free and open to anyone.

Phyllis Hutnak, owner of Carolina-based Indie Cycle LLC, and her company were profiled HERE and HERE shortly after their launch more than 12 years ago.

By giving them your old electronics stuff prevents hazardous material from being dumped in the landfill and, instead, will make sure these discarded items are recycled.

See the list of things they take here, collect it up, and bring it in on March 2!

Indie Cycle normally holds an event here every three months so if you miss this one the next will likely be in early June.

Donating and reselling old clothes is getting more rough-and-tumble as older charities and newer for-profits compete for used clothing

Who should get your old clothes?

Mary Lhowe in·Ocean State Stories 

English immigrant Samuel Slater helped launch the Industrial Revolution in America by memorizing the secret design of Britain’s advanced spinning technology, smuggling the information illegally into the United States, and building, in 1793, on the Blackstone River, our country’s first textile mill. 

He could hardly have imagined some impacts of textiles more than 200 years later:

● A country awash in clothing, driven by consumerism and marketing surges like fast fashion.

● Overfilled landfills, including plenty of usable clothing.

● River bays and land polluted with microscopic plastics from polyester clothing.

● Heavy use of water, electricity, and chemicals to manufacture clothes.

Starting in the late 1990s and ramping up since then, Americans have applied their ingenuity to earn profits – and to help the poor – by collecting and reselling used clothing and other textiles.

Rhode Islanders are familiar with the multi-colored bins scattered across the landscape inviting people to drop off used clothing and textiles (bedding, linens, etc.). The names on the bins are familiar: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, Kiducation, St. Pauly Textile Inc., Upcycle Collaborative, and more.

Collecting and reselling textiles is competitive  and getting more so, with a growing influx of people getting into the game for profit. They are following the lead of non-profits that have been collecting and selling textiles for charitable purposes for decades.

Business is so good in this arena now that many charities that operate public donation bins outfit them with GPS trackers because they may be stolen and sometimes repainted and re-purposed by competitors, or even sold as scrap metal. 

Leaders of charitable organizations doing this work say they know of instances where shady operators game the system by stealing clothes or bins, or, more often, conveying the impression they are charities when they are not.

How you can tell propaganda from journalism

Let’s look at Tucker Carlson’s visit to Russia

Michael J. SocolowUniversity of Maine

Tucker Carlson at a Moscow grocery store, praising
the bread. Screenshot, Tucker Carlson Network
Tucker Carlson, the conservative former cable TV news pundit, recently traveled to Moscow to interview Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for his Tucker Carlson Network, known as TCN.

The two-hour interview itself proved dull. Even Putin found Carlson’s soft questioning “disappointing.” Very little from the interview was newsworthy.

Other videos Carlson produced while in Russia, however, seemed to spark far more significant commentary. Carlson marveled at the beauty of the Moscow subway and seemed awed by the cheap prices in a Russian supermarket. He found the faux McDonald’s – rebranded “Tasty-period” – cheeseburgers delicious.

As a scholar of broadcast propaganda, I believe Carlson’s work provides an opportunity for public education in distinguishing between propaganda and journalism. Some Americans, primarily Carlson’s fans, will view the videos as accurate reportage. Others, primarily Carlson’s detractors, will reject them as mendacious propaganda.

But closely considering these categories, and evaluating Carlson’s work in context, might deepen public understanding of the distinction between journalism and propaganda in the American context.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Lawmakers, advocates call for extra $16M to make the green bond greener

Has past funding been distributed fairly?

By Nancy Lavin, Rhode Island Current

Rhode Island has conserved more than 92,000 acres of forest and farm land through state open space and conservation easement programs. (Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management). This map shows a disproportionate distribution of state open space funded properties. Heavy in the western end of South County, especially Charlestown, while light in the eastern end towns like Exeter, North and South Kingstown and Narragansett.

It doesn’t matter who hears the tree that falls in the forest if the forest has already been razed for development or ravaged by brush fires.

Which is why environmental advocates and lawmakers are rallying behind a proposal to borrow $16 million for state land preservation — before it’s too late.  

“Once farmland is gone, it’s gone,” said Sen. Lou DiPalma, a Middletown Democrat. “You can’t get that back.”

DiPalma and Rep. Megan Cotter, an Exeter Democrat, introduced legislation earlier this month to add $16 million for land protection programs to the existing, $50 million “green economy” bond included in Gov. Dan McKee’s fiscal 2025 budget proposal. 

The extra money would replenish depleted grant programs that preserve open space, forest and farmland, which might otherwise be sold for commercial development or cleared to make way for massive solar arrays. There is also money for forest management and habitat restoration.

3233.8766 acres in Charlestown alone: 

DEM Land Aquisition report. These figures DO NOT include open space where state funding was not a factor, such as lands owned by the federal government, the Narragansett Indian Tribe, private non-profits, the Town of Charlestown or its two "fake" fire districts (Central Quonnie and Shady Harbor).

Only $399.00

The simple truth

Toxics, trolls and trucks in Ninigret Park

February 26 Town Council Meeting Preview

By Charlestown Residents United

We've known about hazardous waste left behind by
the Ninigret Naval Air station since at least 1987.
Here is a 2015 map. Much of it is still there.
Current information will be part of the 
Corps of Engineers presentation at the Council meeting.
The Charlestown Town Council will hold their second February meeting on Monday, February 26.
 

First, there will be an executive session meeting, at 6:30 pm, to discuss pending litigation regarding a zoning matter.

 

The regular Council meeting will begin at 7 pm in the Council Chambers. Here are some of the topics that will be of interest:

 

  • The Council will discuss, and possibly approve, the agreement with the South County Tourism Council for the placement and maintenance of the Thomas Dambo Trolls artwork in Ninigret Park.
  • Consideration and possible approval of Charlestown Craves food truck nights at Ninigret Park on May 9 and June 6.
  • The Council will continue the discussion about Special Use Permit changes needed to conform with State law.
  • The Council will discuss and possibly approve a resolution requesting the RI General Assembly amend RIGL § 45-24-38- regarding Substandard Lots of Record. Explanatory memos from the Building Official and Town Planner are included in the packet after the draft resolution.

The entire agenda, including the procedure for streaming access, can be viewed here.

 

In 2004, former Charlestown Citizens Alliance President Virginia Wooten chaired a committee to look at toxic waste problems in Ninigret. They issued a 2.5 page long report (you can read it HERE). Above☝, you can see their top recommendation.

There will also be a special meeting in the Town Hall Council Chambers on Thursday, February 29, starting at 6 pm with a presentation from the Army Corps of Engineers concerning an update of the testing and monitoring activity in Ninigret Park and the Environmental Land Use Restrictions (ELUR) proposed to the Town. The
meeting packet includes a lot of background information.

Study Commission Ready to OK Installing Solar Panels on Medians

Either that or high-speed rail

By Rob Smith / ecoRI News staff

This system is already in place in South Korea
Should Rhode Island install solar panels along highway medians and other places? A state panel studying the issue says yes.

The commission, chaired by Rep. Robert Phillips, D-Woonsocket, has been studying the feasibility of installing solar panels in the medians of highways like I-95 and I-295 since September.

“We want to make sure we take advantage of any and all areas that can produce solar energy for the state,” Phillips said.

Under the possible recommendations discussed by the commission Feb. 12, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation would modify its utility accommodation policy (UAP) to include procedures and regulations for the state to follow when accepting future solar projects on lands adjacent to its interstate highways, which in turn would have to be approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Once the modifications are approved by the federal government, the state is given the all clear to accept bids from contractors on solar projects, like any other procurement process from state officials.

Politicians pay next to no attention to the concerns of low-income Americans

Only big turn-outs will change political neglect

By Sarah Anderson

By Mike Luckovich
Amidst all the nail-biting uncertainty over the 2024 election, one thing’s for sure: turnout will be key. This February, the Poor People’s Campaign announced plans to mobilize a powerful yet often overlooked voting bloc: the 85 million eligible voters who are poor or low-income.

The campaign crunched the numbers and determined that if this bloc voted at the same rate as higher-income voters, they could sway elections in every state. But most voting drives — and candidates — still ignore this segment of our society.

“The conventional wisdom — which isn’t very wise — is that the poor don’t care about voting,” said Poor People’s Campaign Policy Director Shailly Gupta Barnes at a February 5 press conference. “But that’s just not true.”

What’s the biggest factor discouraging low-wage people from exercising this basic right?

“Political campaigns do not talk to them or speak to their issues,” explained campaign co-chair Bishop William J. Barber II. “In our election cycles sometimes we have 15, 20 debates for president. In 2020, not one of those — not 15 minutes — was given to raising questions about how the policies of that particular party or politician would impact poor and low-income people.”

The Poor People’s Campaign is organizing to push the concerns of poor and low-income people into the center of the 2024 political debate. Their goal is to mobilize 15 million “infrequent” poor and low-income voters.

Will politicians listen?

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Tipping points

A Republican tradition for over 50 years


 

Going, going...


 

Endangered Species Protections Sought for Prehistoric Creature

Populations of these body-armored arthropods, a popular bait and biomedical species, have plummeted

By Frank Carini / ecoRI News staff

Ancient creatures with 12 legs, 10 eyes, and blue blood were once so prevalent on southern New England beaches that people, including children, were paid to kill them.

Their helmet-like bodies can still be seen along the region’s coastline and around its salt marshes, but in a fraction of the numbers witnessed seven decades ago. There are many reasons why.

In the 1950s coastal New England paid fishermen and others bounties to kill the up to 2-feet-long arachnids — horseshoe crabs are more closely related to spiders, scorpions, and ticks than to crabs — because they interfered with human enjoyment of the shore and were viewed as shellfish predators.

People, not just fishermen, were reportedly encouraged to toss horseshoe crabs above the high-tide line, so they would dry out and die. They were labeled “pests” and ground up for fertilizer. Beachfront property owners were apparently concerned the creature’s presence and their decaying death would impact real estate values.

Those ignorant days may be over, but horseshoe crabs are facing other threats to their existence.

The Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based nonprofit, and 22 partner organizations recently petitioned NOAA Fisheries to list the Atlantic horseshoe crab as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Horseshoe crab populations have crashed in recent decades because of overharvesting and habitat loss, according to the petitioners.

Rhode Island among nine states pledging to boost heat pumps to 90% of home equipment sales by 2040

Green, clean and money-saving

By Annie Ropeik, Rhode Island Current

Environmental agencies in nine states, including Rhode Island, will work together to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions by making electric heat pumps the norm for most new home HVAC equipment sales by 2040.

A memorandum of understanding, spearheaded by the inter-agency nonprofit Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, or NESCAUM, was signed by officials in California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island.

While it is not legally binding and does not commit particular funding, the agreement released Feb. 7 calls for heat pumps to make up 90% of residential heating, air conditioning and water heating sales in these states by 2040.

An interim goal of 65% by 2030 is based on last fall’s target from the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 25 governors, to quadruple their states’ heat pump installations to 20 million in the same timeframe.

The residential sector is one of the top two or three contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in most of the East Coast states signing on to the agreement, driven in part by cold climates and a heavy reliance on oil and gas for home heating. Residential emissions rank far lower in the Western states participating.

In a press release, NESCAUM emphasized the harmful smog, haze and ozone driven by nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions from fossil fuel combustion, calling buildings “a hidden source of air pollution.”

Senior policy advisor Emily Levin said states must move quickly to help residents replace these fossil-fired HVAC and water heating systems with heat pumps in time to limit the harms of global warming.

“You may only have one more crack at these buildings between now and 2050, because these are long-lived pieces of equipment — they can last 10 or 20 years,” she said. “So we really can’t miss our opportunity.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: We've had a heat pump, installed as part of a ductless A/C system, for more than 10 years. It delivers heat efficiently and is largely maintenance-free. Based on personal experience, I recommend them. - Will Collette

Amazon mounts attack on all unions

In 'Direct Attack' on Labor Movement, Amazon Backs Claim NLRB Is Unconstitutional

Joins Elon Musk's Space X and Trader Joe's in anti-union bid

JULIA CONLEY for Common Dreams

(Photo: Emaz/VIEW Press/Corbis via Getty Images)

Amid a recent surge in unionization and other workers' rights victories, wealthy U.S. corporations have fired union organizers, surveilled employees as they voted on forming a collective bargaining unit, and closed store locations to penalize labor leaders—but a court filing by Amazon on Thursday suggested a new tactic as the e-commerce giant seeks to dismantle the federal agency tasked with protecting employees.

Fighting accusations from prosecutors at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that Amazon illegally retaliated against warehouse workers who unionized, the company submitted a legal filing arguing that the board itself is unconstitutional.

Amazon claimed it did not break the law by limiting workers' access to the warehouse, which the NLRB said last year was a transparent effort to quash union activity. In its filing, the company also claimed "the structure of the NLRB violates the separation of powers" by "impeding the executive power provided for in Article II of the United States Constitution."

The company is the third corporation to make such a claim in recent weeks.

Friday, February 23, 2024

A generation of youth have grown up not knowing a world absent the fear of mass shootings

Shots Fired (and Keep Firing): Gun Violence Epidemic in the United States

DEITRA BURNEY-BUTLER in Common Dreams

I saw someone get shot and I saw blood splatter everywhere and they just fell off their chair,” described the unnamed young cousin of “Trisha” who was slaughtered during the Lewiston, Maine massacre. 

Children are victimized in every conceivable way because of America’s love affair with guns. 

Why do people do this? I was more worried about am I gonna live . . .,” wondered 10-year-old Zoey Hutchinson after being grazed by a bullet in the October 25, 2023 Lewiston, ME mass shooting. Zoey was at the local bowling alley with her mother for youth night. 

Fourteen-year-old Aaron Young, who also attended the youth bowling night was killed, alongside his father during the massacre. Those incidents contributed to the more than 1695 children and teens killed in the U.S. in gun related incidents in 2023.

Gun violence has become an epidemic in the U.S. with children dying in record numbers due to homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. 

Inadequate laws, and conflict resolution strategies and skills, inadequate and inaccessible mental health services, and a proliferation of access to firearms have all come together to create a perfect, deadly storm. 

Until we develop and employ effective strategies to address conflict resolution strategies in homes, schools and communities, and ensure access to mental health services, we will continue to see a rise in the gun violence that is robbing a generation of the innocence of childhood and youth.

Tool

By Bill Bramhall

Big surge in Rhode Island norovirus cases, so do this....


 

RIPTA approves 16.7% pay bump for drivers

The right thing to do and maybe it will ease driver shortage

By Christopher Shea, Rhode Island Current

Starting wages for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA)’s bus drivers will increase 16.7% effective immediately.

RIPTA’s board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved a new contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 618 to raise drivers’ hourly base rates from $21.71 to $25.33. The collective bargaining agreement also includes a $1 per hour increase for the union’s top-paid drivers.

Thursday’s vote comes as the agency considers service cuts to half of its routes caused because it doesn’t have enough drivers. RIPTA’s three-year contract with the union is set to expire in June 2025, but the agency agreed to reopen it and negotiate new wages in order to attract and retain bus operators.

“This crucial wage increase benefits not only our drivers, but our passengers as well,” RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said in a statement. “This will enable us to attract and retain drivers, ensuring that the public can rely on RIPTA to be there when the bus schedule says we are going to be there.”

The union is also hopeful the pay bump will bring people in.

Bill Would Change Procedure for Reporting, Collecting Roadkill

In some areas, it's called "speed beef"

By Rob Smith / ecoRI News staff

Have you ever wondered what happens to roadkill, like deer, after it’s been struck by a vehicle? 

Under a proposed bill from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, you might be able to take it home with you for dinner.

Lawmakers are weighing a pair of bills that would modify the state’s hunting laws and how it manages the local deer population. The first bill, H7358, would empower DEM to revise its wildlife salvage procedures and collect data on other large species of wildlife, like turkeys, that are often victims of collisions with vehicles.

Under state law, any driver who strikes a deer with a vehicle is required to report it to a conservation officer — a relic of when the law was written, according to DEM; these days claims are handled by the department’s environmental police officers — before they can legally take possession of it.

Tangible contributions of immigrants

Immigrants do work that might not otherwise get done – bolstering the US economy

Ramya VijayaStockton University

Hundreds protested peacefully in Immokalee, Fla.,
against a state law enacted in 2023 that imposes
restrictions on undocumented immigrants. 
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
Although Congress is failing to pass laws to restrict the number of migrants arriving in the U.S., a majority of Americans – about 6 in 10 – believe there’s an immigration crisis along the Mexico-U.S. border. 

Politicians who want fewer people to move here often cast those arriving without prior authorization as a burden on the economy.

As an economist who has researched immigration and employment, I’m confident that economic trends and research findings contradict those arguments.

The U.S. is experiencing a labor market shortage that is likely to last well into the future as the U.S.-born population gets older overall, slowing growth in the number of workers.

Rather than a drain on the economy, an uptick in immigration presents an opportunity to alleviate this shortage. Data from my own research and studies conducted by other scholars show that immigrant workers in the U.S. are more likely to be active in the labor market – either employed or looking for work – and tend to work in professions with the most unmet demand.

Help really wanted

The U.S. had 9 million job openings in December 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government agency also found that there were 6.1 million unemployed people actively seeking paid work.

Economists generally compare the two numbers to calculate the labor shortage. It currently stands at nearly 3 million workers, and the bureau expects this gap to grow as the population ages and people have fewer children over the next decade.

In other words, the U.S. faces a long-term shortage of people looking for employment.

That shortfall would be much bigger without foreign-born workers, who accounted for a record high of 18.1% of the U.S. civilian labor force in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Trump’s Next Legal Move: Personal Bankruptcy

It's usually his companies that go bankrupt

By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON

Trump's going to need to sell a lot of sneakers, except that
according to the fine print on the order forms, he DOESN'T
have any - they will be shipped at some point in the f
uture or maybe never.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones did it two years ago. Rudolph Giuliani did it just before Christmas. Now there’s a very good chance that before March 12, Donald Trump will join them in filing personal bankruptcy.

Trump would do so for the same reason as Jones and Giuliani — to delay paying court-ordered awards for defamation.

Trump has never filed personal bankruptcy, as I will show below. Doing so now might seem at first blush to ruin his brand, his polished image as a multi-billionaire, a modern Midas who turns to gold all that he touches.

But spinning a bankruptcy filing to his advantage would be easy. Trump will tell his cultish believers that he is as rich as ever, but he was forced to seek refuge in Bankruptcy Court by the Marxist-Fascist-Corrupt-Deep State-Liberal-Radical cabal he blames for his legal woes.

Who did it?

By Nick Anderson

Guns over people? You know what to do.

Why Doctors Avoid Talking With Patients About Gun Safety

Takes guts

By Jenna Jakubisin

By Adam Zyglis
In November 2021, a teenager with a handgun killed four students and injured seven people at Oxford High School, near Detroit. It was the deadliest school shooting in Michigan history. Just this month, on Feb. 6, the shooter’s mother was convicted on four counts of involuntary manslaughter. 

During a trial that scrutinized safe gun storage — or rather, a lack thereof — prosecutors alleged she failed to secure the gun at home and ignored warning signs about her son’s mental health.

Gun violence in the U.S. is a public health crisis. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021 was the second consecutive year in which guns were the leading cause of death among American children and teens. 

That year, nearly 49,000 people died from guns — equivalent to one person every 11 minutes. A report from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that gun ownership sharply increases the risk of dying by homicide and suicide.

During a public health crisis, doctors have important roles and responsibilities. The U.S. gun epidemic is no exception. Many health professional organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians, recommend that primary care providers discuss firearm access and safety with adult patients. 

As gun deaths increase, it’s more important than ever for doctors to prioritize gun safety discussions with patients. But a recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine showed that the extent of this practice is unclear.

At the time of the Oxford shooting, the study’s lead author, Joseph Ladines-Lim, was a second-year resident in the University of Michigan’s combined internal medicine and pediatrics program in Ann Arbor. In the tragedy’s aftermath, Ladines-Lim and colleagues launched a research project examining the practice of firearms screening at their institution.

How COVID-19 Affects the Brain

Headaches, Memory Problems, and Fatigue 

By CHARITÉ - UNIVERSITÄTSMEDIZIN BERLIN 

Headaches, memory problems, and fatigue are just some of the neurological impacts that arise during coronavirus infection and can last well beyond the acute period. 

Even early on in the pandemic, researchers surmised that direct infection of the brain could be the cause.

“We took that as our hypothesis at the start, too. But so far, there has been no clear evidence that the coronavirus can persist in the brain, let alone proliferate,” explains Dr. Helena Radbruch, head of the Chronic Neuroinflammation working group at the Department of Neuropathology at Charité. 

“For that, we would have needed to find evidence of intact virus particles in the brain, for example. Instead, the indications that the coronavirus could infect the brain come from indirect testing methods, so they aren’t entirely conclusive.”

According to a second hypothesis, the neurological symptoms would instead be a kind of side effect of the strong immune response the body deploys to defend against the virus. 

Past studies have produced indications that this might be the case. The current Charité study now bolsters this theory with detailed molecular biology and anatomical results from autopsies.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Trump is still not well


 

What's next for the well-equipped MAGAnut?

Don't actually expect to get Trump products. In the case of his $399 sneakers, they will not be shipped for several months (or maybe never). The fine print reads: "We cannot guarantee when an order will arrive. Consider any shipping and transit time offered to you by us only as an estimate." The gold high-tops might get shipped in August but "cannot be guaranteed. We are not liable for any delays in shipment."

 

Fly-fishing fundamentals