Tuesday, October 25, 2016

'We have no fossil fuel industry here in Rhode Island,' said Governor Raimondo this morning, but actually...

Gina Raimondo
Governor Gina Raimondo was the introductory speaker Tuesday morning at the AWEA Offshore WindPower 2016 conference in Warwick. Raimondo spoke to the conference attendees, mostly representatives of various wind power companies and allied industries, with some federal and state government employees on hand as well. Raimondo was keen on selling Rhode Island as a place for the growth and development of renewable energy such as solar and wind.”

“I am an advocate for the environment,” said Raimondo, “and I usually begin my comments in audiences such as these talking about the reality of climate change… Climate change is real, caused by human activity and not going to go away on it’s own. It’s up to us, policy makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs to meet the challenge of climate change.”

Comparing the problem of climate change to her work on pension reform, Raimondo said, “Climate change isn’t that different from big, thorny fiscal issues, which is to say it’s not going to go away unless we take action and it’s only going to get harder the longer we wait. So we have to meet the challenges of climate change with urgency and a seriousness of purpose, in the same way we would with other fiscal challenges."

The governor then made her pitch for creating jobs in the state. “As Governor of Rhode Island I want my state to be a leader. Number one, it’s the right thing to do, number two, I want our state to be known as the state that solves problems and meets challenges. But number three, the silver lining in meeting the challenge of climate change is that we can create jobs.

“The good news here is that we can create jobs in solar, in wind, in energy efficiency, and those are the kind of jobs that I want to have here in Rhode Island.

“My message is that all the things about Rhode Island that enabled us to be first, with Deepwater Wind, are the reason you ought to think about doing business in Rhode Island,” said Raimondo, before making a very questionable claim that, “we have no fossil fuel industry here in Rhode Island. We’re not ‘as attached’ to [the] ‘good old’ fossil fuel industry. That’s a big deal. That means we have a culture embracing of this industry [wind energy].”

The governor's press secretary, David Ortiz, later what Governor Raimondo meant by this statement, saying that, "her point was that the state has no fossil fuel deposits and does not extract natural gas, crude oil or coal."

Though this is true, it does not follow that Rhode Island has a "culture" embracing alternative energy. The fossil fuel industry has a giant economic, political and environmental presence in the state.

Putting aside the proposed Burrillville power plant, or any other of the proposed LNG infrastructure expansions in various stages of being approved, “Rhode Island’s Port of Providence,” according to the US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), “is a key regional transportation and heating fuel products hub” and “natural gas fueled 95 percent of Rhode Island's net electricity generation in 2015.”

The USEIA goes on to say that though Rhode Island does not “does not produce or refine petroleum,” as Rimondo's office clarified, but, “Almost all of the transportation and heating fuel products consumed in Rhode Island, eastern Connecticut, and parts of Massachusetts are supplied via marine shipments through the Port of Providence. The port area has petroleum storage tanks, and a small-capacity petroleum product pipeline runs from the port to central Massachusetts."

Rhode Island is heavily dependent on LNG imports. “Electric power generators and the residential sector are Rhode Island’s largest natural gas consumers. More than half of the natural gas consumed in the state goes to the electric power sector and almost all in-state electricity generation is fueled with natural gas,” says the USEIA, “Historically, natural gas has arrived in Rhode Island from producing areas in Canada and from the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mid-Continent regions, but increasing amounts of natural gas are coming from Appalachian Shales, particularly the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania.” This makes Rhode Island heavily dependent on fracked gas for its power generation.

And finally, as far as the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal, goes, “Providence is one of the leading coal import centers in the northeast, receiving one-tenth of the imported coal delivered to eastern customs districts in 2015. The state is part of the six-state Independent System Operator-New England (ISO-NE) regional grid. And, although Rhode Island and Vermont are the only two states in the nation with no coal-fired electricity generation, the ISO-NE grid remains dependent on coal-fired facilities during periods of peak electricity demand.”

So, although Rhode Island has no industry producing or refining fossil fuels, Rhode Island is heavily burdened and intertwined with the fossil fuel industry. We are soaking in fossil fuels as an importer and exporter. We fund the fracking of America with our energy choices, and even as we are economically and politically dictated to by companies like National Grid, Spectra, Invenergy and Motiva (a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco and Shell Oil Company, we bear the environmental scars of their abuse of our habitats and our health.

This is the fossil fuel industry in Rhode Island.

It is massive and it is killing us.

Also speaking at the AWEA Offshore WindPower 2016 conference was Deepwater Wind's Jeff Grybowski, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative David Cicilline.



Wednesday, October 19, 2016

North Smithfield and Lincoln Town Councils come out against Burrillville power plant

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On Tuesday night the North Smithfield Town Council voted unanimously to oppose Invenergy's $700 million fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant, and on Wednesday evening a second unanimous vote opposing the power plant happened in Lincoln. When Middletown votes to oppose the plant next week, as is expected, that will bring the total number of municipalities passing resolutions in opposition to the power plant to four, since Glocester passed a resolution last week. Many other cities and towns are considering similar resolutions as per the Town of Burrillville's request, with Cranston's town council discussing it at their next meeting.
Denise Potvin and Suzanne Dumas of Burrillville, Rhoda-Ann Northrup of Cranston and Lorraine Savard of Central Falls all spoke out against the plant in Lincoln. Only Savard spoke out against the plant in North Smithfield.

Over 60 local environmental groups have come out against the power plant, the Burrillville Zoning and Planning Boards have expressed their opposition, and both Pascoag and Harrisville have chosen to not sell Invenergy the water they need to cool their turbines.

Below see video from the Town of Lincoln's meeting last night and from North Smithfield's meeting Tuesday night.

Time to reform Rhode Island's regressive car tax say activists

A rally against the the state's car tax policies was held in front of Pawtucket City Hall on Tuesday. Lead by activist David Norton, well known for his efforts to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket, the rally and petition drive seemed very popular with city residents who were doing business at the city hall. Norton wanted to know why "Rhode Island drivers pay the highest car tax in the nation and have the worst roads. Why are Pawtucket residents paying an outrageous 5.3 percent car tax while Rhode Island's wealthiest communities, like Jamestown, pay 1.4 percent?"

Norton says that this regressive and unfair tax puts too much of a burden on the poor and middle class. he says the car tax is "hurting our local economy and killing our small businesses."

Also speaking was Gary Sasse, director of the Bryant Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University and Rodney Barber, Independent candidate for Pawtucket City Council.

You can sign the petition here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Interview with the man who filmed the Broad and Payton St altercation

I contacted the man who took the video of the altercation between cops and the people arrested last night at Broad and Payton St in South Providence.

"I took the video, I live next door to those arrested. This happened in front of my apartment.”

Why were all those people outside?

"Mostly neighbors, there's always something going down outside on Broad Street, but there were so many cops, it was hard to ignore. So everybody went outside, wanting to see what was going on outside their homes.

"With 30 or 40 something cops outside in a mainly black and latino area, I think people knew to watch and record.”

The police say that they arrested I think 7 adults and one minor. Are they just neighbors who went outside?

"I don’t know, the car thief they found behind a house, there was a big commotion but we couldn’t see. The girls in the video ran over because they’re related to him or live with him so they were looking out for him. Somebody said that they thought the cops were going to kill him, and another told my girlfriend she heard one of the cops tell him, after he had been cuffed and was cooperating, that if he moved he would blow his brains out.”

In your opinion, were the cops justified? Could this have been handled peacefully?

"The girls were yelling at the cops, but the fighting only started when the cops charged at them and started throwing… The cops were completely out of line.

"Nobody attacked the police, at one point in the video you can see them punch and take down that girl and she was still on the sidewalk. She had barely moved, certainly wasn't a threat. She was yelling. Apparently she’s 13.”

[Note: the police report says the young woman was 18.]

That was the lady cop punching her, right?

"Yes, blonde hair. They were all involved though, for each of the girls there were several cops.”

Note: After we published this the person who filmed the altercation wrote to me and said, "Just read your post, you should mention that i mentioned that many of the details (car theft, the girls age, etc) i was told by other onlookers, i was just relaying to you what i had gathered. I don't want it to look like i actually could verify those details, but that i did witness the fight and can confirm that it was without reason, excessive and that the police were the only source of violence."

Cranston City Council candidate Kate Aubin calls on Republican opponents to denounce Trump's hateful rhetoric

“The language Donald Trump has used to describe Hispanic Americans, Muslims, women and others is both hateful and dangerous. It is a lot more than ‘putting his foot in his mouth,’ and it must be condemned,” said Democratic candidate for Cranston City Council Kate Aubin. “Incumbent City Councilor Michael Farina made the decision to switch parties from Democrat to Republican in March, when it was already clear that the national GOP would likely be led by Mr. Trump. His failure to denounce the hate ­filled language and ideology coming from the top of his new party shows a lack of judgment, courage, and leadership.”

Trump for President signs can be found around Cranston, says Aubin, displayed next to signs for the three Republican City Wide City Council candidates. Their names also appear on signs with local GOP standard bearer, Mayor Allan Fung, who told WPRI in August that he supported “the Republican nominee” and said of Trump’s hate speech that the presidential nominee “keeps putting his foot in his mouth.” By aligning themselves with the mayor and not publicly disavowing Trump, Michael Farina, Ken Hopkins, and Louis Petrucci are sending a signal that Trump’s message of racism and division is okay by them.

Farina, reached by email, did not reply directly to Aubin's call for him to disavow Trump. "I am running for city council not President," said Farina, "and this is a lame attempt for her to garner attention in a race against 2 incumbents and other more popular candidates herself. She should run on the issues and how she plans on making Cranston better. I stand by my record of positive improvements in the city of Cranston."

This isn't enough for Aubin. "When nomination papers were filed in June, Trump was already the presumptive nominee of the Republican party. No one forced Michael Farina to switch parties and become a Republican, and his continued unwillingness to disavow Trump’s racism and bigotry -- even when given a direct opportunity -- demonstrates a severe lack of judgment, courage, and leadership.

"So this absolutely matters to Cranston and the people of our city deserve to know where Mr. Farina stands on Donald Trump. I believe that Trump's near constant hateful and incendiary comments are dangerous for America and for Cranston. I have spoken clearly about the issues I am passionate about for our city -- improving our neighborhoods by making them more walkable and affordable, protecting our environment, improving our local economy, reducing wasteful spending, and making sure Cranston has top performing schools."

At the time Farina switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican he said he believed there had been "efforts to inhibit or obstruct him from taking positions on certain issue contrary to fellow Democratic leaders."

"As a Democrat I have felt pressure," said Farina, "to conform to party positions … more about political maneuvering and personal ego than the constituents."

Aubin says that as a longtime advocate for social justice, she believes in a Cranston that is strong, diverse, and equitable. The America that Donald Trump is selling, based on xenophobia and intolerance, has no place in Cranston or anywhere in our country.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review: Roy Thomas Presents: Phantom Lady, Vol. 1

Roy Thomas Presents: Phantom Lady, Vol. 1Roy Thomas Presents: Phantom Lady, Vol. 1 by Ruth Roche
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Phantom Lady would be obscure and mostly forgotten if not for the fact that cult "good girl" artist Matt Baker did a few of her strips and some covers. Secretly Sandra Knight, she does Clark Kent one better by not wearing glasses or doing anything to cover her face when she's fighting crime as Phantom Lady. This leads to some pretty odd moments, such as when Sandra cuts out at the sight of danger and Phantom Lady appears, and no one ever puts two and two together.

That said, in her early appearances, showcased in this volume, some of the writers do worry about this. For two stories she wears a veil, covering her face during action scenes. It's not a great look. Other writers seem to indicate that those her know her, especially dullard boyfriend Don Borden, who would give an actual Ken doll a run for lifelessness, and her father, Senator Knight, never get a good look at her face. But eventually it was one of the conceits of the book that Sandra Knight and Phantom Lady were simply assumed to be two people, her identity only discovered by the occasional criminal a short time before their death.

And there is a lot of death. Phantom Lady has no issue with dishing out death to criminals. She seldom kills them directly, but if she blinds them and they fall off a roof, she loses no sleep.

No origin is given for Phantom Lady's powers, which seem to Olympic level strength and dexterity, as well as a penchant for being in the right place at the right time and allowing herself to follow some extremely fortunate "hunches." She also carries a "black light" which functions as a reverse flashlight, blinding opponents and darkening rooms.

After a stream of appearances in Fawcett Comics, Phantom Lady traded in her green and yellow attire for blue and red over at Fox Feature Comics. The stories, which had been starting to get meta under the scripting of Frank Borth, became more traditional under Ruth Roche. By meta I mean that the characters seemed at least semi-aware that they were characters in a comic book. This allowed readers an easier time when it came to dismissing the problems in the story, such as Sandra Knight's face being plainly visible as Phantom Lady, since the tone of the strips was less serious and more fun.

This all changed over at Fox, as the stories became prettier to look at, but less interesting to read. There are occasional high points, or maybe they are simply weird, such as when Sandra Knight is replaced by a robot or when a serial killer wears stilts to throw police off from the fact that he's a dwarf, but for the most part its a steady stream of criminals with elaborate, silly plots that Phantom lady has to face.

Over all the stories are enjoyable, and much of the racism that plagues many comics from this period is not as deep an issue. There is a healthy dose of proto-feminism here, as well as issues containing classist and ableist subtexts, which I won't excuse but will say is par for the course in comics like this.

Then there's the "good girl" aspect. Good girl artists drew girls good, that is, they drew hot girls. Phantom Lady became known as one of the characters who were perverting the minds of young children, because of all the large jutting breasts and hints of nipplage. This, along with the blood and guts of crime and horror comics, was one of the factors that lead to the Comics Code and the censoring of mainstream comics for decades.

View all my reviews

Monday, March 28, 2016

Snyder v World's Finest

Batman v Superman is anti-humanist character assassination lacking in artistry, intelligence, craft, guile, depth or interest. It may well be the worst movie ever made. It is an attack on our better natures. It is a repudiation of the concepts of truth and justice. It is anti-art, a blasphemy and a sin against humanity.

And as such, it is director Zack Snyder’s most successful film, because he accomplishes exactly what he has set out to do: Humiliate and murder Superman, and reveal Batman as a moral coward and fraud.

The plot, if there is one, seems to be about Lex Luthor’s need to desecrate the reputation of Superman as a prelude to murdering him. To accomplish this goal, Luthor must first attack and undermine everything Superman believes in and force the Man of Steel to make decisions completely at odds with his nature. Luthor first manipulates the murderous Batman into assassinating Superman and then builds “an abomination,” a monster called Doomsday, to kill Superman off.

By the end of the film Luthor has accomplished all his goals.

Superman loses and Luthor wins.

Like Luthor, Snyder manipulates the characters of Batman and Superman until they are unrecognizable. Batman is a murderer who feels free to kill everyone in his path. Superman is a moral wimp, driven by uncertainty and angst. The fight between the two is depressing. Batman simply sprays Superman with kryptonite gas and more or less punches him until he pulls out a kryptonite spear with which to kill him.

Only the fact that Bruce Wayne’s mother and Clark Kent’s adopted mother share the same name stops Batman from killing Superman. “Wait,” Batman seems to say, “Our mommies have the same name? Let’s be friends then.”

I’m not kidding.

Like Luthor, Snyder created an “abomination” to kill off Superman. Snyder’s abomination is the film itself. The film is an inelegant, rough-hewn kryptonite spear that Snyder drives into the heart of the character of Superman because just as Snyder’s Luthor both hates and doesn’t believe in God, so does Snyder hate and not believe in Superman.


I believe in Superman

I believe that we, like Superman, are called upon to do what we can to help, without hope of recompense or reward, because it is the right thing to do. We can’t fly like Superman, or stop bullets, but we can be brave. We can sacrifice our most precious possession, time, in the service of others.

Many people do not believe in Superman. They question whether anyone can act selflessly. They argue that Superman is impossible; not because he can shoot fire from his eyes and catch airplanes in mid air, but because he has all these amazing abilities, and he uses them to help, not conquer.

Power corrupts, say those who don’t believe.
With great power, comes great responsibility, say those who do.

In Batman v Superman Snyder depicts a Superman so unbelievable the character doubts his own existence.

“I defy reason,” Superman seems to say, “Not because I’m powered by sunlight and immune to nuclear missiles, but because I give a shit about people.”

At the end of the movie, when Superman teams up with Batman and Wonder Woman to fight Doomsday, the point isn’t to save people, like at the end of the imperfect but vastly superior Avengers: Age of Ultron. The point is to kill the monster that has been created to destroy Superman. Superman’s death then becomes a failed attempt at self-defense rather than a hero’s act of sacrifice.



Batman comes off no better in Snyder’s hands. At first glance it might seem that Snyder has some grasp of the character, but he doesn’t come close.

Snyder’s Batman is a murderer. He kills, using guns, the weapons of cowards.

Snyder places Batman in his Batmobile, firing bullets indiscriminately into the vehicles he’s pursuing. We watch as Batman grabs a gunman from behind and makes him shoot other bad guys in a wide arc as he uses the man’s body for a shield.

This Batman is a killer. He brands his victims with a bat symbol so they’ll be targeted for beatings and death in prison. He shoots and kills a man near the end of the movie, even though this was a hostage situation Batman must have confronted a thousand times in his twenty year career.

But just as Snyder doesn’t believe in Superman, he doesn’t believe in Batman either. In Snyder’s world, powerful beings kill. Snyder’s Batman is a sadist. He’s stupid, a bully, and a moral coward.


The Batman I believe in doesn’t kill

The Batman I believe in has made a hard, fast rule against killing and guns. He has handicapped himself in his war on crime and his enemies use that against him at every turn. How much easier would it be if Batman simply killed the Joker, rather than capturing him, insuring his eventual escape? Yet Batman knows that if he kills the Joker in some moment of weakness, then he has lost, and the Joker will have won. All the Joker wants is to drag Batman down and reveal his morality as a lie.

Snyder accomplishes this goal for the Joker with ease, revealing a Batman who stands for nothing and has accomplished nothing.

In subjecting Batman and Superman to humiliations and defeats greater than any wrought by their most powerful and insidious enemies, Zack Snyder has revealed himself as a visionary blasphemer, the ultimate pop cultural defiler and perhaps the greatest supervillain in history.

This was not an accident, it was by design. I don’t think Snyder is a creator who somehow missed the point and delivered a subpar interpretation of these characters. I think Snyder understands these characters perfectly and he went out of his way to destroy them. Snyder is Lex Luthor and the Joker combined, murdering our dreams and tearing down our pretensions.

In that sense, this is Snyder’s ultimate statement on what it means to be human: we are brutish, self-interested murderers who foolishly reach for a morality that doesn’t exist. Our better nature is a fantasy as unrealistic as righting wrongs with martial arts or catching people when they fall. In Snyder's hands our dreams are as dust...

...and yet, I still believe in Superman.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Marvel Hot Wheels The Heroes 1979

Series 1: Captain America, Human Torch, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man & Thor on yellow cards.

Series 2: Captain America, Human Torch, Thing, Thor, 

Back of card

 Spider-Man, Hulk 2-pack

Loose cars: Captain America, Human Torch, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Thing, Thor