From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

This archived article is from the October 18, 1983 issue of The Anchor.

Most people probably don’t know that Rhode Island was the subject of national attention in 1983. The issue that brought the attention was a nativity scene put up by the City of Pawtucket. Not only did the New York Times cover the story, it was also the subject of a U. S. Supreme Court case: Lynch v. Donnelly.

Exactly a week after the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.), Steve Brown (who is still the director of the A.C.L.U.) visited RIC’s Political Science Club to discuss the controversy.

Though the article does not talk about the decision of the case (since it was decided months after the article was published), a quick look into the case reveals that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Pawtucket. In a 5-4 decision, the majority opinion of the court stated that the depictions of the origin of the holiday were not advocating for religion, that the display was for “legitimate secular purposes,” and that the case, therefore, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (which prohibits the government’s involvement “respecting an establishment of religion”) (

What’s interesting about this story is the legacy and precedence it has left for the entire country. When looking into the case, it pops up not only in academic reviews, but it’s also mentioned in a collection of newspaper discussions about the separation of church and state in recent years.

Though many of us Rhode Islanders may have forgotten about Lynch v. Donnelly (especially those of us who weren’t alive yet), it is perhaps one of the few times that Little Rhody has left a lasting impression in an important area of national debate.

Federal government releases climate change report

Aaron Isaac – Staff Writer

Don’t get ready for the end of the semester yet, a substantial climate change report has been released by the federal government. The Fourth National Climate Assessment was released this week and it’s a very complicated document.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program must deliver a report to congress every four years. A first volume of the perceived causes of climate change came out last year. Like The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. report points the finger for warming temperatures on greenhouse gas emissions, the largest contributor to warming being carbon dioxide. While they also say natural factors such as the sun and short term climate cycles affect the climate, these factors would not be enough to cause warming. In fact, if the natural factors were the only contributors, there would have been “a slight cooling effect on global climate over the last 50 years,” the report states.  

This new report is the second volume of a report on the impacts and causes of climate change on the United States. The report first spells out the already observed effects of climate change: water has been affected by the climate. First, research indicated that the warming planet has meant increasing droughts as the demand for water increases for agriculture and an increasing population. There has also been an increase of floods and hurricanes which has not only hit vulnerable water system infrastructure, but has cost billions of dollars in damage.  

The report also pointed to air quality saying “More than 100 million people in the United States live in communities where air pollution exceeds health-based air quality standards.” Increasing wildfires has also meant increased costs of fighting these fires (2017 was the most expensive year starting from 1985). More rain could expand the niche of ticks and mosquitos, thereby affecting public health.

The report also made predictions on the future costs. They separated their predictions into different scenarios where the US takes action to mitigate change and a scenario where carbon continues to rise and less technological innovation is made. For example, the incidence of heavy precipitation (rain, snow and hail) is predicted to increase by “two to three times the historical average in every region” under the less optimistic assumptions. The more optimistic assumptions say that heavy precipitation will only increase anywhere from 50 to 100 percent.

When questioned about the report, President Donald Trump said he didn’t believe the report’s assessments. Though he did not look to anything specifically in the report, he pointed to the country’s water and air saying it was at a “record clean” and tweeted that the US had the cleanest air “by far.” One way to measure air cleanliness is exposure to particulate matter (particles, like dust, in the air). According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the US ranked eighth in exposure, good, but not the best “by far.”

Still, many states and towns are taking steps towards cleaner air and water. It is possible to keep temperatures down, but action will have to be taken to ensure emissions are reduced.

Sex and drugs in the dark

Erica Clark – Asst. News Editor

Sex and drugs are two topics that are constantly on the minds of college people. Rhode Island College (RIC) student Sissy Rosso hosted an event titled “Sex and drugs in the dark” in Willard Hall Wednesday night.

Graphic courtesy of RSA

Sex in the Dark is a national program that is hosted on multiple college campuses. This event was sponsored by Co-Exist, Residential Life and Housing as well as RICovery. This was RIC’s third time conducting the event on campus.  

The idea of sex and drugs in the dark is pulled from common human experience: people are more comfortable talking about these topics in a low-light setting.

Sissy Rosso explained the point of this event is to have “a very casual, fluid conversation around sex and drugs.  When it comes to sex and drugs, people already have these predisposed ideas.”

Rosso talked about how much having these conversations elevates the stigma around sex and drug use, as well as people being educated on the topics correctly.  

Anthony Maselli, who is a member of a peer group involved in HIV and STD education, was also a speaker on the panel along with Haley Mckee and Lisa Hoopis. The panel explained, “We added the drug component to ours because of the addiction epidemic in this state. We wanted to expand it, so people could be able to ask questions about sex and also drug use.”

Rosso said that by attending these events, “people are gaining knowledge on different concepts on sex and drugs.  It really is meant so people don’t feel weird about having different kinks, or learning more about it.”

As the topic of the recent Opioid crisis was brought up significantly during the event, Rosso made it clear these types of events bring better understanding to addiction and substance abuse which occur today.

Biology Department works with mutant proteins

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Assistant Professor of Biology at Rhode Island College (RIC) Bill Holmes and his team of six student researchers have been working with mutated tau proteins in an attempt to discover their cause. Tau proteins have an abnormal chromosomal makeup, which is the cause for a mutation.

According to “Science Daily” neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease have a buildup of tau proteins which damages the enzymes that the brain uses for learning and memory.

Professor Holmes received his Ph.D from Brown University and has published several articles for academic biology journals. He and his student researchers run experiments using the tau protein. The goal of the research on this particular mutant protein is to come to a better understanding of “tau misfolding and aggregation.”

This can be a confusing concept for people unfamiliar with the vernacular of a cell. In a RIC press release, one of the members of the research team, Senior Matt Schiavo, explained this process:     

Tau protein, Graphic courtesy of

“When proteins are made by our cells, they consist of a long string of amino acids that all have to fold into a specific 3D shape in order to function properly. That folding happens with the aid of little chaperone proteins, little helpers, who help get that protein in the exact shape it needs to be to do its job. When the protein tau is healthy, it helps hold the cell in its proper shape, like scaffolding supports a building. When the protein misfolds it doesn’t get into the correct 3D shape, which can cause the protein to stick together with other misfolded proteins, forming clumps. These clumps of misfolded proteins are called aggregates and it’s a common feature in neurodegenerative diseases.”

Holmes and his team will continue to run experiments until they figure out the underlying cause to this mutation.


From the archives

Catherine Enos – Opinions editor

These archived articles and illustrations come from the Spring 1972 issues of The Anchor.

In many ways, 1972 was an interesting year. Watergate happened, the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl, Atari released “Pong” and bell bottoms were in style. The Anchor, however, hit a minor slump during this year. The issues tended to be shorter (the average page count seemed to be 8-10 pages) and the highlight of the year (to use the term loosely) was a recurring section written by a doctor in a grotesquely anatomical Q&A column.

However, there’s always a few interesting tidbits in The Anchors of the past. Hidden in the 1972 issues of The Anchor are a few gems: a musical bunny confirming an urban legend, a discussion regarding an impending visit of well-known occultists (horror fans may recognize the Warrens from “The Conjuring”), an announcement regarding the ability to consume alcohol at campus functions, and a rather dramatic editorial cartoon reacting to the state of the nation.

Though The Anchor perhaps didn’t have its best year, it certainly provided some memorable things to look back on.

Israeli government, Hamas reach ceasefire after series of deadly clashes

Tim Caplan – News Editor

Israeli and Gazan government officials reached an agreement to cease fire on Tuesday, Nov. 13 after two days of the deadliest conflict between the two entities since the war of 2014.

The conflict began on Sunday, Nov. 11 after a botched intelligence reconnaissance mission by members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). IDF soldiers entered Gaza on Sunday and were stopped by a Hamas official, which then resulted in a fire fight that left six Hamas militants and one IDF soldier dead.

Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza. Hamas and the West Bank Palestinian government are unaffiliated. Hamas is a radical Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by countries all over the world including The U.S, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

Sunday ended with Hamas firing 17 rockets into the civilian communities of southern Israel according to the Jerusalem Post. The next day, Hamas sent over 300 projectile missiles over the border at Israel. Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system intercepted at least 60 of those rockets according to the “Times of Israel”  These rockets hit the community of Ashkelon as well as other towns surrounding the Gaza border. These rockets wounded nine people and killed one Palestinian man living in Israel.

According to the New York Times, Israel then responded by deploying the air force to hit about 70 different targets in Gaza including the Hamas broadcast TV station, Al-Aqsa.

Three Palestinian residents were killed by tank fire and nine were wounded according to the BBC.

A seven hour meeting commenced with the Israeli security cabinet on Tuesday after statements of willingness for a cease fire came from the political leader of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh. The mediators of the negotiations were the U.N, Egypt, Switzerland and Norway. Several high ranking government officials strongly opposed the cease fire, claiming that a cease fire would be appeasement to terrorists. The defense, education, environmental protection and justice ministers all condemned the negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held strong in his conviction, however, and agreed to the cease fire. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned the next day, stating that Israel was “Surrendering to terror.”  

This is the second violent clash between Gazans and the IDF this year, the first in May during the celebration of 70 years of Israeli independence. The situation is volatile, but for now an agreement for temporary peace has been reached.

Rhode Island votes yes on Question 2

Tim Caplan – News Editor

During the 2018 midterm elections Rhode Islanders had the opportunity to vote on the “Higher Education Facilities Bond Measure,” also known as Question 2. RIC faculty and staff have been seen throughout the months of October and November lobbying on campus, encouraging voters to select “Yes” on ballot referendum question 2, which would provide $70 million in taxpayer money to be allocated between URI and RIC. $45 million would go to URI to upgrade “Education and research needs for the marine disciplines,” and $25 million would go to RIC to revitalize and upgrade Horace Mann Hall.

Rhode Island voters approved of the ballot referendum by a margin of more than 60,000 votes with a final count of 59% to 40%.

President Sanchez appeared on WPRI 12’s “Newsmakers” program on Oct. 5th to discuss Question 2. Together with the President of URI, Dr. David Dooley, they discussed Question 2, student debt in Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Promise program. Sanchez said the ballot referendum will help RIC “completely modernize Horace Mann which houses our education department.” Sanchez continued, “If you think about it Horace Mann was built nearly 50 years ago and there has not been any major renovation since. As a lot of folks know, training and preparation of teachers has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. What [Question 2] would do for us is allow us to build a facility to complement an entirely reimagined curriculum in our school of education.”

President Sanchez, Photo courtesy of WPRI

President Sanchez went on to talk about the fact that RIC has engaged with thought leaders across the country on developing modern techniques associated with teacher training. RIC consulted with universities like Arizona State and Baylor to try to discover all of the different new strategies of teaching students. Sanchez mentioned video coaching technology and simulations as two modern tactics to help teachers of the future.

As the ballot referendum passed on November 6th, renovations are set to begin in 2019.

Amazon, destination New York and Virginia

Aaron Isaac – Staff Writer

The frenzied bidding war for Amazon’s favor is over. After 14 months of searching, Amazon announced its new headquarters will be in Long Island, New York and Arlington, Virginia.

Current Amazon headquarters in Seattle, Washington; Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

Many states and cities were left disappointed by the decision. Amazon, valued at nearly one trillion dollars, reported receiving 238 proposals from cities and regions across the United States. Amazon originally promised 50,000 jobs wherever they choose for their new headquarters. When it decided to build two headquarters it also split its promise in half, only promising 25,000 jobs in each state.

Amazon asked for, and was offered, lavish incentives. Pennsylvania offered $4.6 billion of taxpayer funded incentives over 25 years. Newark, N.J.’s proposal offered numerous gifts including tax exemptions and tax credits by the city and the state totalling $7 billion.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was so determined to get Amazon to move to New York he said he would change his name to “Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes.” Though it likely had no effect on Amazon’s decision, mere hours after his statement, Amazon announced their move to New York.

Governor Cuomo is enthusiastic about Amazon’s promise of “$2.5 billion in Amazon investment” and “25,000 full-time high-paying jobs” according to Amazon’s website.

New York’s bid for Amazon amounted to $1.525 billion, mostly made up of tax credits and up to $1.7 billion if Amazon creates 40,000 jobs. Though New York did not present the most lucrative incentives, they could boast a capable labor force and proximity to out-of-state universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The tax incentives drew a wave of criticism for being too large and being poorly used. Incoming New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Amazon should not be getting taxpayer money “at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need [more] investment, not less”.

The New York Times Editorial Board called the Amazon deal a “Bad Bargain.” They pointed out that Amazon will bring higher property values as well. They suggested that if property values rise too high, residents may be priced out of their neighborhoods. They preferred Amazon to invest in New York’s infrastructure directly and to provide jobs to lower income residents “not just flimsy promises of job training.”

In response to the move, politicians, union members and community members staged a protest in Long Island Park. The gentrification issue was front and center for many of the protestors. City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer said to Vox that it was unacceptable for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to get “a helipad so he doesn’t have to take the damn 7 train.” This is actually true, as a part of the New York deal, the headquarters will put in a helipad specifically for Bezos to fly to the building.

Amazon is hardly the only company to take advantage of incentives. Wisconsin offered Foxconn three billion dollars last year for fewer and less well paying jobs.

Dubbed “HQ2” these new headquarters for Amazon will most likely begin construction in early 2019.

Rhode Islanders now have 24 hour triage for mental health services

Erica Clark – Assistant News Editor

Rhode Island’s first Behavioral Health Link Triage and Call Center is now open 24 hours a day for people struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders.

BH Link opened their center and hotline this past Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 a.m. Located at 975 Waterman Ave in East Providence, this is not a hospital or a rehabilitation center, but rather a center with small individual rooms with recliners. It’s designed for patients to stay there no longer than 23 hours.

BH will employ an estimated 50 people, including certified counselors, registered nurses, psychiatrists, peer specialists and phone screeners. This triage is designed so those dealing with mental health issues don’t have to wait hours in an emergency room. This will provide immediate attention to behavioral healthcare in a community based setting, 24/7.

The stated purpose of BH Link is to ensure stability, provide to individuals who need ongoing care and to reduce the use of hospital-based services.

Jim Ryczek, who is the CEO of Horizon Healthcare Partners stated,  “Most people will be stabilized and then moved on either to a higher level of care in hospitals or the adult-acute stabilization units or sent home if they’re stabilized or into the community for referrals.” This gives first responders the capability to have their patients assessed immediately.

  Ryczek said, “First responders will seek out people either through calls with the 911 system, or encounter them on the streets in Providence or anywhere else, assess what’s going on and call us and say, ‘Can we bring them in for assessment and treatment?’”

BH Link will be offering appointments and drop-ins for immediate attention. The license provider, Community Care Alliance, accepts all insurance providers, and those without insurance will not be charged for services.

California set ablaze

Sean Richer – Anchor Staff

The candle has quite literally been burning at both ends of California, as two devastating wildfires burn through the state. So far, they have claimed the lives of 66 people and have burned a total 240,362 acres of land. These fires could not have come at worse time, since the people of California are still reeling from the Borderline Bar shooting, which happened just a week prior. The campfire, which has been affecting northern California has been particularly devastating. So far, the fire has been responsible for 63 of the 66 deaths statewide, and has destroyed the homes of many hundreds more. One of the most affected communities is Paradise, California. The town of 26,000 has been entirely burned to the ground with only a few abandoned buildings left standing. More bodies are expected to be found.

Graphic by Wiley Sadowski

Purple Air, an air quality watchdog organization has ranked the air quality in northern California as the worst in the world, surpassing both India and China. This is due to the massive plumes of smoke and debris that the fire has left in its wake. The smoke has become so dense that flights to and from San Francisco have been canceled and many transportation services have shut down in order to encourage people to stay indoors. Both the San Francisco Bay region and Sacramento have exceeded 300 points on the air quality index and have been labeled as “hazardous.” The larger swathes of land surrounding these two points have been deemed very unhealthy.

Another point of concern is the amount of people who are still missing. Over 630 individuals have yet to be found as friends and relatives have not been able to communicate with them. Many of the people who have been displaced by the flames have been staying in tent cities, one of which resided in a Walmart parking lot in the town of Chico. The people there have since been asked to leave, and many do not know where they will go next. Chicoan Luigi Balsamo, a resource coordinator for the camp, issued a statement saying that the Red Cross ordered it be shut down and went on to say, “I don’t think anyone wants to take responsibility for it… we can’t keep sustaining this thing.” The Red Cross has denied that they ever issued such an order, since that area does not fall under its jurisdiction. The City Manager of Chico, Mark Orme, has expressed his concern as to why the camp has closed, since the local government did not give this order either. Walmart has also issued a statement saying, “We have not asked or demanded that anyone leave the property.”

President Trump has not been shy about sharing why he thinks these fires have grown so devastating. He has repeatedly threatened to withdraw federal payments to the state if the situation is not remedied in a timely manner. While on his trip to France he tweeted, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor…Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” California Governor Jerry Brown wrote off the President’s comments as, “Inane and uninformed.” The President has since changed his tune, commemorating the firefighters currently battling the flames tweeting, “God Bless them all.” President Trump is scheduled to visit California over the weekend.