Toward Enshrining Roe v. Wade: Texas Law Backfires

Last week hell froze over as RI Congressional Rep Jim Langevin came forward in an editorial supporting a woman’s right to choose (Providence Journal, September 9, 2021). In case you missed it, the Texas legislature has enacted legislation essentially putting bounties on women who opt to terminate a pregnancy after the first six weeks.

As a result, Langevin, who has long opposed a woman’s right to choose, has become a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, meant to protect women’s rights to safe and accessible abortions throughout the United States.

“Faced with the reality that Roe might no longer be the law of the land in a few months,” Langevin wrote, “I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support a reality where extremist state legislators can dictate women’s medical decisions. At the end of the day, we have to put our trust in women.”

Bravo, Rep. Langevin!

Sticking With Vax Policy?: McKee’s Mandate Tests His Cojones

Governor McKee's Prickly Challenge

News Analysis

Will RI Governor Dan McKee stand his ground on the August 18 mandate that all RI health care workers must receive their final dose of COVID-19 vaccine by October 1 or face consequences, possibly including termination of employment?

There has been considerable resistance, including a letter drafted by Rep. Arthur Corvese signed by 32 members of the state House of Representatives, “respectfully calling upon Governor Daniel McKee to amend the October 1st deadline… and to direct the Rhode Island Department of Health to develop appropriate guidelines for those individuals to retain their employment while maintaining the public health.” (Rep. Raymond Hull removed his name this morning, according to the Legislative Press and Information Bureau.)

The governor has shown a reluctance to expend political capital in such disputes, dissembling for two full weeks on requiring masks in schools. During that time, he declined to issue a state mandate while also saying that he expected local school districts to comply with guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – which recommends “universal indoor masking” – until ultimately reversing himself and issuing Executive Order 21-87 on August 19. During those two weeks, the governor allowed local school committees and superintendents to fight it out separately with parents and trade labor unions.

Who is resisting nationally?

It is well established that vaccination take-up varies enormously depending upon such factors as education and location.

A study published July 30 by the CDC in their flagship journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report noted that, “Vaccination coverage was highest among physicians and advanced practice providers (75.1%) and lowest among nurses (56.7%) and aides (45.6%). Among aides (including certified nursing assistants, nurse aides, medication aides, and medication assistants), coverage was lower in facilities located in zip code areas with higher social vulnerability (social and structural factors associated with adverse health outcomes), corresponding to vaccination disparities present in the wider community.”

Furthermore, the study said, “The proportion of persons who declined COVID-19 vaccination ranged from 11.1% among physicians to 33.2% among aides. Reported recent COVID-19 infections ranged from 0.7% among physicians to 3.0% among aides. The percentage of aides who were completely vaccinated was lower among those working in facilities located in ZIP code areas with higher proportions of ethnic and racial minorities (43.5% versus 50.5%), lower household median income (40.5% versus 48.1%), higher poverty (42.4% versus 49.2%), and lower high school completion (42.2% versus 49.3%).”

Why is there any reluctance among health care professionals to be vaccinated, as the overwhelming scientific consensus is that COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US are safe and effective? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “recommends that all eligible persons, including pregnant and lactating individuals, receive a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine series,” countering a frequent objection cited as a basis for hesitancy.

Legal structure for the mandate

Technically, the Rhode Island health care worker vaccination mandate was not issued by the governor but by the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) as a formal emergency rule. RIDOH explains, “The regulation applies to all individuals who work in RIDOH-licensed health care facilities and all licensed healthcare providers, whether they work in a licensed facility or not. ‘Healthcare worker’ means any person who is temporarily or permanently employed by or at, or who serves as a volunteer in, or has an employment contract with, a RIDOH-licensed healthcare facility, and has or may have direct contact with a patient in that health care facility. ‘Healthcare provider’ means any person licensed by RIDOH to provide or otherwise lawfully providing health care services.”

DOH minced no words in their justification for the emergency regulation: “The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19, has mutated into a more contagious variant, known as the Delta variant. As of July 4, 2021, Rhode Island had a ‘moderate transmission’ rate of 11.2 cases per 100,000 people, but as of August 17, 2021, Rhode Island’s transmission rate has increased to ‘high transmission’ of more than 187 cases per 100,000 people. New hospitalizations by week have more than quadrupled within that same time period.”

The regulated class presents an especially dangerous threat to the public, DOH said: “Health care workers and health care providers interact with some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable populations: individuals who are immunocompromised and individuals with co-morbidities. These vulnerable populations are at risk for adverse health outcomes from COVID-19. As COVID-19 positive individuals are often asymptomatic or presymptomatic, health care workers and health care providers may unintentionally spread infection to these vulnerable patients. In order to protect these vulnerable populations, RIDOH is mandating that all health care workers and health care providers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, 2021.”

The broad scope of the DOH definition of “health care worker” appears to encompass everything from pharmacy aides to emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on ambulances, but this is reasonable given that they are likely to encounter precisely the vulnerable patient population at greatest risk from complications of COVID-19 if infected. It is relatively common for firefighters and police officers to hold EMT certification, leading to claims that a vaccine mandate is a violation of collective bargaining agreements and consequent threat of lawsuits by trade labor unions, but it is difficult to imagine a court giving much credence to such objections.

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that the governor is pressed between opposing forces: the doctors and scientists on one side, and the politicians and unions on the opposite side. The governor could tell DOH to reverse the vaccination mandate, but that could have major fallout, even protest resignations from senior staff, if he tried it. DOH has made clear in the course of their formal rulemaking that they are strongly committed to the mandate.

So far, Gov. McKee has exhibited one great management strength: he knows what he doesn’t know – he takes advice on medical matters from doctors and DOH, and he takes advice on hurricane planning from emergency management experts and the National Guard. There is no legitimate reason for the governor to back down on the vaccination mandate for health care workers, just as there is no legitimate reason for the vast majority of health care workers to refuse vaccination.

The Cabinet

How hops it, ninnyhammers? Horace L. Popinjay here to cut through the turgid summer’s air with a cool breeze of lucid musings. I have recently been on my annual vacation, which here in the year 2121 consists of taking a pill that makes you hallucinate breathable air and sunshine for 17 seconds. I have returned refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to complain about the sordid goings-on in 21st Century Rhode Island.

For walking Don Bousquet cartoon Governor Dan McKee, August has been a month of provoking the ire of the masses. First, he angered non-morons by refusing to institute a school mask mandate, then he angered morons by instituting a school mask mandate. His chief of staff, Tony Silva, is under investigation for failing to disclose a financial interest in a controversial wetlands property, riling the state’s GOP.

And the governor has recently incurred the wrath of this humble columnist, when he suggested that tearing down the city’s iconic Superman Building is “on the table.” Ethical violations are one thing in this state, but messing with a beloved cultural touchstone is quite another. We need the Industrial National Bank Building, Governor — when our beloved state is swallowed by the sea, its spire will be one of the only things poking out above the churning waves.
H.L. Popinjay

Disgrace the Nation

In the spirit of Hurricane Henri and the fall of Kabul, in this column we will blow hard and piss all over everything, and move ahead with no idea what we’re doing and without any attempts at apology.

The very visual coverage of the horrific botched withdrawal of American troops and civilians − along with our courageous native allies − from the international graveyard that is Afghanistan (hands up, Great Britain and Russia) has been numbing to anyone following this debacle. Thanks to gutless politicking and clueless and misguided decision-making, as P&J go to press we are just trying to digest the ISIS-directed deadly suicide bombings in Kabul and await more of the same.

(And when it comes to humanitarian aid, P&J have taken to heart the comment from a now-forgotten source that instead of politicizing humanitarian aid, we should try humanizing politics. Got that, President Biden and everyone in Congress?)

Your superior correspondents refer back to the CBS dramedy series, “The United States of Al,” which subtly and presciently took on the plight of America’s in-country allies, who now face torture and death for assisting our country in one of our most embarrassing and humiliating forays into foreign nation-building. We would also like to thank the good folks at the Pentagon, who kept up their grand tradition of lying to the public and the pols as to how many brave U.S. military lives were lost in a rigged game, and how we were always inches away from success.

In “The United States of Al,” the storyline is focused on an interpreter (Al) who worked as a civilian with a US Marine’s unit in Afghanistan, but then came to the States to live in a comrade-in-arms’ house. Some of the nuanced jokes made by Al would, for example, discuss how long it took him to get papers to come to the US in recognition of his long, frontline support of our troops, putting his ass on the line alongside our Marines. We are hearing about those now-unfunny circumstances in abundance these days, and trust us, nobody’s laughing.

While this “disgrace the nation” right in our cringing faces continues, apologies seem like very weak tea to P&J, and especially to those Afghan families’ faces who we have seen on video wide-eyed and crying in fear of their possible fates, while all they see is our backs. Shame on us as a whole.

Pornography Section

Call it “weather porn” or “fear porn,” but the arrival of Hurricane (cum Tropical Storm) Henri on August 22 gave Little Rhody’s TV stations the chance to fan both their feathers and the fire among the citizenry.

Local weather forecasters never seem happier than when they are addressing potential natural disasters. As of the Friday prior to Henri’s Sunday grand entrance, grinning meteorologists were sending the tacit message that everyone should be doing the bread-and-milk samba ASAP, and don’t forget to get gas and more toilet paper.

This unspoken appeal to our worse instincts in advance of an unpredictable weather crisis is a dog whistle ramping up of fear of the worst, hiding under the guise of “be prepared.” Well, if you are typical New Englanders — especially residents of the Ocean State — and don’t know what to do without being guided by some talking hairdo on TV, it’s time to head to Omaha.

And as often happens, Henri managed to miss most of Rhode Island. Jamestown perhaps took the worst hit, with total power outage for all residents and six big-time sailboats snapping their moorings and washing up on the shore looking like an oversized surfers’ beach party. Residents also emptied all the gas from the town’s only gas station and all the cash in the in-town ATMs. Yet another Comet Kohoutek scenario overblown by the media to the nth degree. 

In the future, hopefully someone at TV stations will decide to take the route besides that of a shock-and-horror, “Oh my god, it’s pornography, it will destroy us all!” response to nasty weather events, which will be getting more intense as climate change sinks its talons into our lives, and come on with more of a reasoned, “Hey, this could possibly be a pisser of a storm, but you’ve got it covered, right?”

And from P&J’s experience, if you want reliable info, just find someone who has the good sense to track the weather on their cellphone and make reasonable and informed decisions, instead of running around like well-dressed, made-up Chicken Littles, squawking about a possible apocalypse.

Tens of Leaves Down: Henri aftermath report

As New England counts the cost of Tropical Storm Henri, Governor Dan McKee, took to the podium to deliver the verdict from the Hill:

“Tropical Storm Henri was an unprecedented meteorological phenomenon, even by New England standards. We are used to having overhyped weather, only for it to have less oomph than a paper handkerchief, but Henri might have been the most overinflated of them all. And for that, I am proud. This keeps up a fine tradition of scaring the shit out of our residents, only for the sun to shine on the day of terror.

“But at the same time, I must not be flippant. Henri caused much-told damage across Rhode Island, including a delayed shipment of ‘Gansett to the outer reaches of the state, a tragedy for so many. At this moment I am also saddened to confirm a loss of more than 13 leaves from the deciduous trees that the state depends upon for looking all fall-like in time for Pumpkin Spice Latte Season. Reports have also come my way of lawn furniture being knocked over, dogs not wanting to go outside for their evening shits and swimming pools sloshing water over the edge. The fact that the people of Rhode Island were able to withstand such testing forces is a testament to our strength as a community.

“At this point, my team and I must retire and prepare statements for all the blizzards expected between October and next April. Stay safe, Rhode Island, and always carry an umbrella.” 

Billboards: Cancelled

Governor McKee announced Thursday that all billboard advertising will become illegal at midnight on January 1 2022, and that attorneys will have to find a different way to drive you nuts on a daily basis. But the move has been met with widespread outcry from legal circles. Dick, Dicks and Dïx of Cumberland threatened a “hard retaliation” if their “erections all over I95 aren’t kept up high where they belong,” while Cheep, Slíz and Crook fear a dramatic loss in earnings from the road accidents they depend on happening as vehicles try to read their appallingly designed advertising distractions. 

King, Muscles and Swords, made famous by their appearance during the Superb Owl commercials, have taken the dramatic step of threatening to cancel their combined gym memberships. “What’s the point of being in shape if the people of Rhode Island can’t admire our sex guns on big roadside posters?” commented Mr. Muscles. 

Portuguese Man o’ War — A Warning

Beachgoers at East Matunuck scattered like bowling pins this week after being warned of jellyfish in the water. While the official line is the creatures came up on the Gulf Stream, the inside story has it that the herds of vacation-going Portuguese man o’ war had swarmed up from the Mid-Atlantic in search of lobster rolls and views from the Newport Bridge. 

Our Least Favorite Delta: Will Gina save the world?

Smithfield local and former general treasurer of Rhode Island, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, has promised to do everything in her powers to reopen international travel. “We’re working on it,” Raimondo revealed to Reuters (Motif was also there, hiding behind a potted plant). “I’m pushing really hard.” But with the Delta variant of COVID-19 looming, some remain concerned that reuniting families and reawakening necessary economic ties is a step in the wrong direction.

“The Delta V, the DV, the Delta, man … it is here, it’s here, here in Mercah,” burbled President Biden when pressed on the subject. “We gotta get real with it, so I’m gonna send a ham sandwich and a bag of chips to anyone who signs up for a vaccination this month. We’ll also have a vegan alternative.”

But not everyone is happy with the president’s thinking. “Almost nobody who has been vaccinated has contracted Delta,” explained an anonymous source at the CDC, “because that’s sorta how medicine works. Why should more than half of the population continue to be isolated from the rest of the world because a bunch of bozos in Kent County think vaccinations are the work of Satan and George Soros?” 

But don’t worry. If anyone can put pressure on a political scenario to change, it’s an Italian from Rhode Island. Gina’s got you.

UFC: Elorza vs. McKee

Following the disappointing Conor McGregor Dustin Poirier fight, where the Irishman broke his ankle in the first round, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has promised to appease its fans with the “most exciting spectacle of kicking the shit out of each other since Kamala Harris tongue-whipped Mike Pence on national television.”

Billed as the Rhody Showdown, the contest will see Jorge “Sugarlips” Elorza take on Dan “Scrotum Chin” McKee in a fight that bookmakers are predicting will be the defining clash of the year. Elorza and McKee have previously squared off in public forums, most recently at the pre-fight weigh-in where they had to be kept apart over disagreements on the Providence Teachers Union.

“I’m gonna show the people of Rhode Island that Jorge Elorza doesn’t know diddly squat about fiddly squit,” commented McKee, when asked about the Providence Mayor’s stance on anything. “Everyone knows that I am the coolest cat on the block, watch me strut.”

“McKee doesn’t know what day of the week it is,” shot back Elorza. “He lives in the past, and I am gonna beat him so hard that he stays there.”

Expect the smack talk to continue all the way up until the day of the fight, with a rematch already in the books for Tuesday, November 8, 2022, which happens to be the same day as the Rhode Island gubernatorial election.

Life Outside Rhody?

Rumors are circulating that a Rhode Islander has been spotted wandering around in Connecticut, which, if confirmed, would make them the first known Ocean Stater to ever leave the perfect confines of Lil’ Rhody. But the story has been met with outcry from the Concerned Parents Union (CPU), who claim that outside influence is detrimental to youth.

“Frankly, I’m disgusted,” commented mother of 13, Brandi Reed of Coventry. “With one of us crossing the state line, our kids will start to think it’s also okay, and they’ll start doing it, too. And it’s not okay! It isn’t natural.”

“What will they start to learn in places like that?” challenged Tom Thumb, chairman of the Exeter board of CPU. “One day they’ll come home and tell us they feel attracted to more than one place, and that they might even want two houses! What sort of liberal brainwashing is that?”

“There are dragons in Vermont that eat flesh and turn children into spiders!” explained Lester Tinglebottom of Glocester. “The liberal media and Democrats may think that that is okay, but it is not. I don’t want my son turned into a spider! What if he marries another spider and they adopt a child? We are poisoning the minds of young people!”

When asked their opinion on racial and gender equality issues, the CPU overheated and exploded.

Are You Not Entertained?: The river wasn’t the only thing on fire when Who He and Elorza squared off

Oooh, you bitch!

The British would call it, with a dismissive sneer and a smile, “handbags at 10 paces.”

That about sums up the much-inflated confrontation between Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Governor Dan “Who He?” McKee at a recent press conference for the illustrious WaterFire. A lot of heated blather, especially from the diminutive Elorza, who we would say acted like his hair was on fire, save for the fact he has little to burn up top. To Phillipe and Jorge, the best part of the videotaped spat was the intervention of one of McKee’s bodyguards, who looked amazingly like Steven Schirripa, best known for his role in “The Sopranos” as Uncle Junior’s caretaker, Bobby “Bacala.” Now if “Who He?” could find a way to get Paulie Walnuts on his security team, he’d have our votes forever.

The cause of the dispute was the Providence teachers union contract, although some viewed it as a pre-planned PR stunt to show the diminuto Jorge as a tough guy who was standing up for his community. Maybe, maybe not. Just as likely was that Hizzoner wanted to kick off what will undoubtedly be a primary race for the Democratic candidacy for governor in 2022 in which Elorza and McKee will face off. (And P. and J. hope both will get their butts kicked by current Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who has already announced her official candidacy for that slot.)

So calm down, boys, although a shrieking, arms-flapping, wincing and backpedaling slapfest among politicians just can’t be beat for entertainment value.

Jackie, Jackie

Phillipe and Jorge are longtime fans of Borscht Belt comedians. (For you youngsters, imagine a landlocked cruise ship full of Jewish passengers planted in the Catskills.) So we were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Borscht Belt legend (and former rabbi) Jackie Mason. Mason’s self-deprecating humor and stylized Yiddish accent were a big hit in the Catskills before he went on to New York City where he had a chequered, but always humorous, career in stage and TV.

One of his most hilarious bits was about his inferiority complex. A great example was the shtick that went, “I was so self-conscious that when I went to a football game and the players went into a huddle, I thought they were talking about me.”

Rhode Block

Many Vo Dislunders P. and J. have spoken with in the past few years have said they no longer travel to Block Island in the summer because it is simply overrun by tourists. And with locals’ well-known disdain for outsiders, this isn’t a huge surprise.

But you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

As this column goes to press, the town council of New Shoreham, which is the official name of The Block, will decide whether to make indoor mask-wearing at public establishments mandatory. As we have all seen since masks became the world’s most controversial accessory, this is a ticking time bomb for Block Island. Enforcing such a law on opinionated tourists from afar is a guarantee of multiple confrontations between merchants and the great unwashed, many of whom can’t pronounce, never mind spell, the word “couth.” (And as far as enunciation, just imagine Joe Pesci’s version of “youths” in “My Cousin Vinny,” which comes out “’utes.” “Hey, get some coot, wouldjuz?”)

The alternative that New Shoreham’s town fathers and mothers are considering is that wearing of masks becomes a “request.” Good luck with that, in a state where the most common polite request made of others is “Go fuck yourself.”

The Cabinet

Salutations, louts and bully-boys! H.L. Popinjay here with another edition of The Cabinet, the column which, much like the chocolate cabinets of my wayward Rhode Island youth, is bound to give you a stomachache.

Politicking is a nasty business these days, as evidenced by the recent public spat between The Mayor and The Governor over the teachers’ contract. Whatever one may make of the motivations behind that juicy piece of political theater, we can all agree that Councilman Narducci’s statement, in which he claimed that “raised voices and aggressive behavior will never result in productive change,” was cretinously muttonheaded. Raised voices and aggressive behavior are the only things that ever result in anything at all, particularly in the gormless muck of politicking. Well, that and bribery.

Speaking of bribery, this columnist hopes that the $100 vaccine payments manage to boost our state’s plateauing vaccination rates. Ah, to live in a country that will bribe you to take life-saving medicine! While, of course, continuing to deny access to so much other life-saving medicine. Truly a land of contrasts.
Until next time, I remain hacking Canadian smoke,
Your Humble Columnist,
H.L. Popinjay

The RI history we don’t talk about: Hard Scrabble and Snowtown

Recently, conservatives have been campaigning to keep critical race theory (a theoretical framework that states that race is a social construct designed to oppress people of color) from being taught in schools. Although it is not taught in most public education systems to begin with, these attempts to prevent people from learning about the more shameful and horrific parts of American history highlight just how necessary it is to learn them.

While many people learned about Tulsa and Rosewood last year after the murder of George Floyd, it’s likely most of us don’t know the stories of countless other incidents just like these — some of which happened in Rhode Island. Among those are the cases of Hard Scrabble and Snowtown. In the early 19th century, in Northeast Providence lay the neighborhood of Hard Scrabble. It had a few poor white residents but was primarily a Black community. Exactly where it used to be located is debated by historians; some say it was where University Heights apartment buildings are now, others that the statehouse has since been built atop of it, and others that it is currently covered by railroad tracks.  

On October 18, 1824, A white mob attacked and destroyed Black homes in the neighborhood after a Black man refused to get off of the sidewalk when approached by some white people. The mob claimed they were targeting places of “ill repute,” but in reality destroyed indiscriminately, using axes and their bare hands, and setting some homes on fire. Approximately 20 Black homes were decimated, and some of the furniture from these homes was stolen and auctioned off at the Pawtucket Market. There are mixed reports about the repercussions for rioters, but the common conclusion seems to be, even with sources that report a rioter was found guilty, all the rioters got away with the mass destruction without consequence. Likewise, local leaders openly voiced their support for the rioters, and racist pamphlets were spread around mocking the victims of the attack.

Many of the victims of the Hard Scrabble attacks took up residency in the nearby neighborhood of Snowtown. That lasted seven years. In 1831, another white mob attacked and destroyed Black homes after the shooting death of a sailor, despite that the owners of the homes destroyed had no relationship to the shooting. The violence lasted days and eventually a militia was called in to stop the rioting. Providence officially became a city in response to the destruction of Snowtown because with city status, Providence could create a police force. The motivation was less to protect the victims of these assaults so much as “to maintain order.” There are no records suggesting the Black Americans who had their homes and businesses destroyed received any kind of reparations. 

I did not learn about this in school; I graduated from high school in 2018. I think it’s safe to say that most if not all of us who received our education in Rhode Island did not either. 

There are markers for each event. The one for Hard Scrabble rests in the traffic island where North Main Street meets Canal Street. In 2009 Richard A. Lobban Jr., then a professor in African studies at the Naval War College in Newport and board member of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, remarked that “Unless you are jogging or cutting the grass, which is one-tenth of 1% of Rhode Islanders, you wouldn’t see it.” The marker for Snowtown is slightly more visible. However, scholar and activist Ray Rickman, former state representative and former president of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society remarked of it, “No one knows it’s there.” He added that at only a mere 6 inches above the ground, it’s “like a bad headstone.”

Knowledge of the recurring history of white mobs destroying Black communities across America is crucial to how we view our current systems. One of the most significant ways that wealth is acquired is through generational wealth. When Black Americans’ homes and businesses are repeatedly destroyed, it makes what was already so difficult to obtain even harder, resulting in the disproportionate poverty faced by Black Americans that lingers to this day. 

The destruction and displacement of Black communities is just one way that systemic racism is interwoven into the very fabric of how this country works and who benefits from it to this day. We cannot fix what we cannot know, and those trying to ban the discussion of racism in schools are aware of this. It’s why they’re trying their damndest to ensure that the majority of Americans never know. 

The Cabinet

Salutations doddypolls and jobbernowls! As regular readers of this column are aware, I am writing this dispatch from my underwater lair in the year 2121 — an algae encrusted pyramidical structure 100 fathoms beneath the sea, which was once the Apex.

As such, 21st century terrestrial concerns such as “air quality,” “bridges on fire” or “plastic straw legislation,” have a kind of quaint ring to them. 

Still, your dogged correspondent, ever the empath, can imagine the wrenched heartstrings of long-time residents upon seeing the Crook Point Bascule Bridge go up in flames this week. The bridge, which has been stuck in the open position since it was abandoned in 1976, has long been an icon of charming uselessness, urban decay and esoteric nostalgia — three core Rhode Island values. The recent conflagration is more evidence for a fundamental truth I call Popinjay’s Law — just because something’s broken doesn’t mean you can’t ruin it. 

Which brings us to the last night of the legislative session. State lawmakers gave the green light to a highly contested medical waste-burning plant, which will release all manner of lovely compounds into the West Warwick air. My advice to residents is to stock up on oxygen — the reserves will keep you in good stead once you live beneath the sea. 

Until such time, I remain,

H.L. Popinjay