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Monday, June 29, 2020

It CAN happen here because it HAS happened here

RhodeIsland’s Dark History

OnJune 21st, 1924, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Foster, Rhode Island. 

Thousands of people attended from across New England, some traveling incaravans of cars from Newport and New Haven. 

The day featured speakers fromPennsylvania and Connecticut and female lecturers who specifically addressedthe women in attendance. 

An account published by the Rhode Island Historical Society notesthat “at the conclusion of the field day and clam chowder dinner, severalhundred [attendees] were initiated under a blazing cross.”

LongtimeRhode Islanders, including myself, like to talk about the ways Rhode Islandfeels separate from the rest of the United States. We’re a tiny place in anenormous country. (Statistically, our land mass is 0.03 percent of the entirenation, which basically rounds down to zero.) 

We have a proud legacy ofhomegrown weirdos, outlaws, artists, and free-thinkers, starting with ouriconoclastic state founder, Roger Williams. And we have our own distinct rituals (WaterFire) andcuisine (Del’s lemonade, New York System wieners, coffee milk). Rhode Island isdelightfully different, and we love it for that reason.

But,in some of the most important ways, Rhode Island is a deeply American place —which is to say, a place haunted by hatred, oppression, and racial injustice.And as protests sweep across the nation following the murders of George Floydand Breonna Taylor, and countless other racially-motivated injustices, it’simportant to remember our less flattering history. 

If you’re an Ocean Stateresident feeling powerless and disturbed by recent events, here is at least onetangible thing you can do: educate yourself about the nightmares that tookplace in our backyard.

RhodeIsland, like the rest of the United States, was brutally racist from itsorigins. In the 18th century, the state emerged as a hub for the slave trade, launching hundreds of voyagesthat, by some estimates, carried as many as 100,000 Africans inbondage back across the Atlantic. 


Frederick Friedrich Trump 2.jpgTrump's grandfather Friedrich Trump was among the first to die of the "Spanish" Flu on May 30, 1918.

The photo to the left was taken the year of his death.

He was thrown out of Bavaria for draft-dodging (a family tradition) and moved to Seattle where he began the Trump fortune by running a restaurant and whorehouse (true story). He later expanded his holdings with more hotels, restaurants and whorehouses in Canada to serve the needs of prospectors during the Yukon Gold Rush.

In March, our very stable Dear Leader pondered the historic death toll caused by the flu and had these words to say:
"When I was hearing the amount of people that died with the flu, I was shocked to hear it. Over the last, long period of time when people have the flu, you have an average of 36,000 people dying. I've never heard those numbers, I would've been shocked. I would have said, 'Does anybody die of the flu?' I didn't know people died from the flu."

Trump says we beat COVID-19 - let's look at the numbers

Pic of the Moment

What's up with scup?

By GRACE KELLY/ecoRI News staff

Commercial fishermen and chefs are working on a plan to make scup, a small fish found in abundant numbers in local waters, more desirable to consumers. (Eating with the Ecosystem)
Commercial fishermen and chefs areworking on a plan to make scup, a small fish found in abundant numbers in localwaters, more desirable to consumers. (Eating with the Ecosystem)

The story of scup in Rhode Island —the underutilized little fish that has seen a growing push from the eat-localfood movement — is hardly news. 

For years, educators at Johnson & WalesUniversity have hosted scup dinners, organizations like Eating with theEcosystem have promoted the porgy, local chefs have highlighted it on menus,and immigrants from West Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia havehauled coolers to Point Judith to buy the fish straight off the docks.

But as awareness for this littlefish has grown, the truth is, preparing a whole fish is still intimidating tomost home cooks. In a consumer society where convenience is key, for better orfor worse, most of the country likes its fish in neat fillets.

“What was a big challenge I thinkfor the species was you have to buy it whole,” Johnson & Wales associateinstructor and assistant dean Thomas J. Delle Donne said. 

“And buying fishwhole becomes problematic unless your culture and your cuisine is used tocooking whole fish, which a lot of cultures are, but there are also a lot ofhouseholds that looks for fish at Dave’s or Whole Foods or Stop & Shop thatis cleaned and filleted.”

To bring scup to the masses — and,in the process, create demand for fishermen to catch the abundant fish — theKingston-based Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation(CFRF) has partnered with Delle Donne and other chefs at Johnson & Walesand the Pier Fish Co. in New Bedford, Mass., among other organizations, to tryto create a marketable scup fillet.

“It kind of started with scup as anunderutilized species,” said Michael Long, a research biologist at CFRF whoheads the scup project. “They’re currently soldprimarily as fresh whole fish, so there’s not really any processing going on,there is some small-scale hand-filleting going on, but there’s not largemechanized filleting process.”

While many consumers may think thatfish arrives at the supermarket whole, many fish are actually processed inlarge-scale facilities with machines specifically designed to scale, clean, andfillet all kinds of seafood products. 

Wall Street Journal reports Chinese Spies Penetrated The Trump White House

Bombshell investigation reveals spying in top Republican circles and naive US responses 
ByDavid Cay Johnston, DCReport Editor-in-Chief

Communist Chinesegovernment operatives got into the Trump White House and also sat at aconfidential Republican election strategy meeting, Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal reports.

Some of the conductthe Journal described could form the basis for federal felony indictments.

Fronts for thePeople’s Liberation Army and the Chinese Communist Party donated at least $450,000to Trump’s 2017 inaugural and his campaign, money the newspaper said wascrucial to obtaining direct access to Trump and GOP strategy meetings. Afurtive organization was created in California to boost Trump’s chances ofgetting a second term.

The Journal focused onfour men, three of whom operate through fronts for the Chinese military or theCommunist Party. One of the three, Tang Ben, is a naturalized American citizen.He and his wife gave $300,000 to Trump Victory, among the largest donations madeto that organization. 

After assuming office, Trump and wife Melania posed forphotos with Tang. PHOTO ABOVE.

Trump and his staff ofunqualified family and equally unqualified sycophants are na?ve and gullible,their rank incompetence unwittingly putting our national security in jeopardy.

The fourth man, aChinese national whose green card allows him to work here, created Chinese Americans for Trump. Thegroup boosted Trump’s political fortunes and ignored his manyracist anti-Asian comments, which have continued to this week.

The Journal said DavidTian Wang acted at the behest of the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles increating the group. This  appears to be an example of astroturfing, thepractice of masking the identities of sponsors to make them seem to begrassroots participants and to hide financial connections.

Wang gave $150,000 tothe group, which passed the money on to the Trump campaign and the RepublicanNational Committee.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Russia Pays a Bounty For Dead U.S. Soldiers

Trump does less than nothing,denying he was told even though he is “Commander-In-Chief”
ByTerry H. Schwadron, DCReport Opinion Editor

And Donald Trump has known about this intelligence sincethe beginning of March and has done nothing about it.

Actually, the more youroll this disclosure over in your mind, the worse it gets.

Protecting U.S. troopsis Job One for any president, but particularly this one who insists on itsprimacy. And he isn’t doing his job to protect our sons and daughters in thefield.

U.S. troops wereattacked and we did nothing about it.

This alone should bean impeachable offense.

It's up to you now

For more cartoons by Keith Knight, CLICK HERE.

VIDEO: Never follow an empty wagon

To watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quhVLpGm2uk

Tick surveillance and control lagging in US

"Show us your ticks!"
Entomological Society of America

TickEncounter Resource Center > Current Tick ActivityWhile the prevalence of Lyme disease and other illnesses spreadby ticks has steadily increased in the United States over the past 20 years, anew study of the state of American tick surveillance and control reveals aninconsistent and often under-supported patchwork of programs across thecountry.

Annually reported cases of tickborne disease more than doubledbetween 2004 and 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC), while seven new tickborne germs were discovered in that sametimeframe. But a clear gap exists in our public health infrastructure, sayresearchers who have conducted the first-ever survey of the nation's tickmanagement programs.

The survey showed that less than half of public health andvector-control agencies engage in active tick surveillance, and only 12 percentdirectly conduct or otherwise support tick-control efforts. 

These and otherfindings from the survey, conducted by university researchers at the CDC's fiveVector-Borne Disease Regional Centers of Excellence, are published today inthe Journal of Medical Entomology.

"Ticks are responsible for the majority of our vector-borneillnesses in the U.S., and our programming does not adequately meet the need inits current form, for both surveillance and control," says Emily M. Mader,MPH MPP, lead author on the study and program manager at the Northeast RegionalCenter for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, housed at Cornell University.

Mader and colleagues surveyed 140 vector-borne diseaseprofessionals working at state, county, and local agencies in the fall of 2018to learn about their program objectives and capabilities for tick surveillanceand control, testing ticks for disease-causing germs, and barriers to success. 

Reaching even that many respondents proved challenging, as no central databaseof tick-management programs or contacts was available.

Highlights from the survey of tick-management programs include:

COVID-19: Tradeoffs between economics and public health

MIT scientists look at risk and reward for opening certain types of businesses during the pandemic
MassachusettsInstitute of Technology

jason dancing GIFBanksand bookstores. Gyms and juice bars. Dental offices and department stores. TheCovid-19 crisis has shuttered some kinds of businesses, while others havestayed open. 

But which places represent the best and worst tradeoffs, in termsof the economic benefits and health risks?

Anew study by MIT researchers uses a variety of data on consumer and businessactivity to tackle that question, measuring 26 types of businesses by boththeir usefulness and risk. 

Vital forms of commerce that are relativelyuncrowded fare the best in the study; less significant types of businesses thatgenerate crowds perform worse. The results can help inform the policy decisionsof government officials during the ongoing pandemic.

Asit happens, banks perform the best in the study, being economically significantand relatively uncrowded.

Image"Bankshave an outsize economic impact and tend to be bigger spaces that people visitonly once in a while," says Seth G. Benzell, a postdoc at the MITInitiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and co-author of a paper publishedWednesday that outlines the study. Indeed, in the study, banks rank first ineconomic importance, out of the 26 business types, but just 14th in risk.

Bycontrast, other business types create much more crowding while having far lesseconomic importance. These include liquor and tobacco stores; sporting goodsstores; cafes, juice bars, and dessert parlors; and gyms. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The rabbit hole of COVID-19 conspiracy theories

Medical School Taught Me How to Talk to Conspiracy Theorists
By Yoo Jung Kim

How 5G's Rapid Growth Sparked a Conspiracy Theory – Adweek
A few weeks ago, I took an uncomfortable trip down the rabbit hole of Covid-19 conspiracy theory videos. As a newly minted M.D. who will soon be taking care of patients at a safety-net hospital on the frontlines of an ongoing pandemic, I was especially pained by what I saw.

There was the infamous “Plandemic” video, which asserts that a cabal of elite individuals and organizations is using Covid-19 to cement power. There were also false claims that the new coronavirus was created with the backing of Bill Gates, for the purposes of diminishing our freedoms.

Watching the videos pushed me to think about why so many viewers gravitate toward them — and how best to counter their misinformation. On both of those fronts, my experiences working with patients have taught me valuable lessons.

I’ve learned that conspiracy theorists are often neither malevolent nor unintelligent. Rather, many are afraid of their own powerlessness, and these theories offer them a semblance of control.

It's beautiful! Perfect! Best ever!

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'WHITE HOUSE UNVEILS TRUMP'S OFFICIAL PORTRAIT'

VIDEO: Cosmic Reef

To watch this video on YouTube: 

COVID-19 is laying waste to many US recycling programs

We hope this isn't the "new normal"
Brian J. Love, University of Michigan and Julie Rieland, University of Michigan

A discarded medical glove in Jersey City, N.J., April 27, 2020.
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. 

Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Many items designated as reusable, communal or secondhand have been temporarily barred to minimize person-to-person exposure. This is producing higher volumes of waste.

Grocers, whether by state decree or on their own, have brought back single-use plastic bags. 

Even IKEA has suspended use of its signature yellow reusable in-store bags. Plastic industry lobbyists have also pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether, claiming that reusable bags pose a public health risk.

As researchers interested in industrial ecology and new schemes for polymer recycling, we are concerned about challenges facing the recycling sector and growing distrust of communal and secondhand goods. 

The trends we see in the making and consuming of single-use goods, particularly plastic, could have lasting negative effects on the circular economy.

Antioxidant-rich diet reduces stress response during bird migration

Birds love berries
Wild Berries – Portuguese Food
A research team led by a University of Rhode Islandornithologist had birds fly in a wind tunnel to simulate migration and foundthat birds that consume dietary antioxidants before and during fall migrationcan reduce the endocrine stress response triggered by long-duration flights.

Theresults, published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, emphasize theimportance of protecting habitat with an abundance of available berriescontaining antioxidants at migratory stopover sites.

“Thisreduction in the endocrine stress response may be a major benefit birds gain infall by eating fruits at stopover sites during migration,” said ScottMcWilliams, URI professor of natural resources science, noting that manyspecies of birds select berries containing anthocyanins, a type of dietaryantioxidant present in purple-colored berries. “We know birds prefer certainberries that have lots of antioxidants.”

Duringlong-distance flights that push birds to their physiological limits, levels ofmetabolic hormones called glucocorticoids become elevated to provideready-to-use fuel to satisfy high energy demands, according to McWilliams. 

Butprolonged exposure to glucocorticoids is detrimental and can lead to chronicstress response. The research concluded that the consumption ofanthocyanin-rich food attenuates the potential stress triggered by thesecretion of high levels of glucocorticoids.

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