Warwick Beacon: Textile comeback: Innovation revitalizes industry

Warwick Beacon: Textile comeback: Innovation revitalizes industry

By Mary Johnson

Fifteen years ago, Amerisewn, in Cranston, made carrying cases for Apple computers, eyeglass cases, and sports bags. Today, CEO John Caito designs and manufactures high tech gear that protects military, law enforcement and mental health industry employees from stabbing, slashing and explosives.  

The reason for the change?

“Low dollar items go overseas,” said Caito, “complex items stay here in the U.S.”

Caito said the company combines “both advanced and traditional materials in unique ways.” The facility includes rows of sewing machines and workstations where employees cut patterns and fabric to make riot gear and other protective gear. It’s bright, clean and organized, but appears low-tech, although it is actually quite advanced. Caito said the company incorporates fabric, foams, plastics, leather and Kevlar, among other materials, to make the protective gear to withstand impact, slash or stabs, because they haven’t found a wonder material that does it all yet. He said the team is always thinking about ways to make the gear lighter, more durable, and better able to withstand attack, and they spend a significant amount of time doing research to stay on top of current trends, materials and fabrics.

Amerisewn was one of ten companies exhibiting their work at the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network launch last week at the Historic Slater Mill in Pawtucket. RITIN, as it’s known, was formed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the University of Rhode Island Business Engagement Center to foster collaboration among textile companies, designers and university faculty from URI, RISD and Brown. At the event, Senator Jack Reed spoke of uniforms and gear being developed and tested for the military that includes nanotechnology and electronic circuitry. “The uniform I wore in 1967 and 1970 as a paratrooper and cadet doesn’t cut it,” said Reed. “It’s not your granddad’s textiles any longer.”

Michael Woody, the CEO of Trans-Tex, LLC and the President of RITIN, is a man on a mission to “change the hearts and minds” of Rhode Islanders about textile industry. “It’s no longer the dark and dirty factory full of dangerous equipment that they see in the history books,” he said.

Smart fabrics

“Some advanced textiles” he added, “are apparel made of smart fabrics that monitor blood pressure or heart rate.” Rhode Island companies, he added, also make goods that are not widely recognized as textiles, because they are not clothing or apparel, such as “fabrics for structures, the automotive industry and the marine industry; fabrics for medical devices, and fuel storage.”

The Cooley Group, headquartered in Pawtucket with a facility in Cranston, is one such company. “Cooley textile products are very different from the textiles people typically associate with clothing and fabrics,” said Dan Dwight, The Cooley Group’s CEO. Cooley textiles are “coated with polymer or other chemistry formulas to serve a specific market application” said Dwight.

For instance, the company makes a textile coated with “a proprietary urethane-based chemistry formula that is fabricated into combat raiding craft for the U.S. Military Special Forces,” according to Dwight. Once fabricated from the Cooley “rolled goods,” the craft can be carried in a backpack and inflated and deflated as needed, making the forces more mobile and less likely to be discovered during military operations.

Cooley also makes a product that, sadly, hasn’t yet caught on in Rhode Island. It’s a membrane that is injected into the pipes under the road to create a barrier inside, allowing “municipalities to re-line old and leak water and sewage pipes without having to dig up streets.” Dwight said application of the “cost effective and environmentally sustainable technology is much more prevalent in Europe than in North America.”

Innovation vouchers

Both Amerisewn and the Cooley Group, along with six other Rhode Island textile companies, receive Innovation Vouchers from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation to support research and development. This funding allows the companies to partner with university professors and students to explore innovative ideas for new materials or processes.

The Cooley Group has partnered with faculty at URI to explore technology to bring billboards into the modern age with sensors and other tools to collect and distribute information.  “The Innovation Voucher work Cooley is doing with URI facility and students has given Cooley access to additional technical resources to support our global growth through new products,” said Dwight.

At the event last week, hosted by RITIN in partnership with the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation [including Congressman Jim Langevin], Real Jobs RI, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, Polaris MEP, the Rhode Island Manufacturing Association, the URI Business Engagement Center and the Slater Mill Museum, staff from Cooley Group, Amerisewn, and eight other companies exhibited the products their goods are part of, while more than 100 people, manufacturers, university faculty, students, and government officials, talked shop.

“We are constantly developing new products for new end use categories and networking with other companies to maximize our capabilities. That’s the key to our success,” said Steve Perry, Senior Vice President of Darlington Fabrics, which makes high performance fabric for NFL teams and NASA Astronauts. “RITIN is a very important organization to Darlington because it facilitates collaboration between the diverse group of textile companies in our state.”

Vibrant industry

During the past year, RITIN has leveraged funding from the RI Commerce Corporation and the Department of Labor and Training to host networking events like these, collaborate with Polaris MEP to host a Design Week panel, and host an exhibit at the Providence Mini Maker Faire help promote the modern textiles sector to the general public through a new website and ongoing social media campaign. “Rhode Island has a vibrant textile industry,” said Whitehouse, who founded RITIN with the University of Rhode Island Business Engagement Center, “I hope RITIN will take stars and make sure they form into a constellation.

The organization also conducted a survey of textile companies to better understand industry needs, uncovering an urgent need to attract younger employees into an industry that will lose a significant portion of its workforce in the next decade.

“Textile companies provide a solid career paths for those with college degrees and those who chose to enter the workforce immediately after high school,” said Christian Cowan, Center Director of Polaris MEP, which provides day-to-day management for RITIN and is an affiliate of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP). According to NIST data, the state employees approximately 2,500 people in the textile sector and the average earnings was above the national average, at $52,404 annually.

Caito, who graduated from a vocational high school with a degree in cabinet making, said, “It’s important in manufacturing to try to get better every day and never stop learning. Manufacturing is a team and everyone’s job is important for that team. If kids new how many types of industries and interesting opportunities there were using textiles they would be amazed.”

RITIN’s website, at www.ritin.org, created by Walsh and Associates of East Greenwich, features video profiles of three Rhode Island textile employees that Woody said represent the diverse range of job opportunities available for individuals of varying education levels:

Anjali Khemani, an Associate for Design and Innovation at Pawtucket, RI-based Propel, LLC, recently earned a Master’s degree in textiles from Drexel University and moved to Providence because of the innovation underway in the local textile industry. “My focus at Propel is computer programming,” said Khemani. “There are so many textile companies that are looking for people that can write code and develop programs. Our industry has switched from the dull and dusty of years past to advanced technologies and customized solutions.”

Tom Jeronimo, the Director of Color Management at Kenyon Industries in Kenyon, shares his journey of being an auto mechanic before beginning his manufacturing career in an entry-level production job 20 years ago. “I had a passion for fixing cars but several friends were in the textile industry and encouraged me to join them,” said Jeronimo. “It’s a decision I’ve never regretted. Many of my friends and family members had a totally outdated perception of what textile manufacturing is like. I tell them they would be amazed at how clean our plant is. Things have changed in the past 20 years. The career avenues in textiles today are pretty much limitless.”

Warwick Beacon: Reed, Langevin concur FBI investigation next best step in Kavanaugh hearings

Warwick Beacon: Reed, Langevin concur FBI investigation next best step in Kavanaugh hearings

By Tabitha Pereira

Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Jim Langevin agree an FBI investigation is the correct next step to take in the process of determining Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

During a press conference relative to a federal grant for the Warwick Fire Department on Monday, Reed and Langevin took a moment to discuss the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Both legislators were in agreement regarding the implementation of the FBI investigation.

“I’m glad that the Republicans finally gave in to the right thing and requested an FBI investigation,” Langevin said.

Reed said an investigation would be beneficial.

“I don’t know if [the FBI report] will be conclusive, but it will provide critical details, and the very fact they’ve done it gives more confidence that the investigation was thorough,” Reed said.

Reed, who voted against Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Circuit Court, questioned his temperament.

“I think there’s also a question now about his temperament as well as his independence from theologian politics and I think those are serious issues for any Supreme Court Justice.”

Kavanaugh was recently accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women he came into contact with when he was in high school and college. Kavanaugh denies the claims made against him and both Ford and Kavanaugh appeared before senators Thursday during confirmation hearings.

At the end of the hearing, Republican Senator Jeff Flake requested a one-week delay before a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court to allow for an FBI background investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against him.

The background investigation is currently underway and so far the FBI has contacted Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate who also made sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

Clean Water Action: Clean Water Action Announces Rhode Island Endorsements for the 2018 General Election

Clean Water Action: Clean Water Action Announces Rhode Island Endorsements for the 2018 General Election

SOURCE: CleanWaterAction.org

PROVIDENCE – Clean Water Action is pleased to announce its list of endorsed candidates for the 2018 general election being held on Tuesday, November 6th.

“Rhode Island’s natural resources are our state’s greatest asset, and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that we protect them,” said Johnathan Berard, Clean Water Action’s Rhode Island State Director. “These candidates have earned our endorsement because of their commitment to safeguarding our environment and public health. They have pledged their support for policies that will reduce consumption of single-use plastics and plastic pollution, protect our drinking water supply and water resources, and move swiftly towards a vision of 100% renewable energy for our state.”

Clean Water Action Rhode Island proudly endorses the following candidates for US Congress, Governor, Treasurer, and the General Assembly:

U.S. Senate

  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D)

U.S. House of Representatives

  • David Cicilline (D), House District 1
  • Jim Langevin (D), House District 2

Governor

  • Gina Raimondo (D)

Treasurer

  • Seth Magaziner (D)

State Senate

  • Adam Satchell (D), District 9
  • Dawn Euer (D), District 13
  • Val Lawson (D), District 14
  • Dennis Lavallee (D), District 19
  • Josh Miller (D), District 28
  • Jennifer Douglas (D), District 34
  • Bridget Valverde (D), District 35

State Representative

  • Christopher Blazejewski (D), District 2
  • Rebecca Kislak (D), District 4
  • Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D), District 5
  • John Lombardi (D), District 8
  • Anastasia Williams (D), District 9
  • Grace Diaz (D), District 11
  • Joseph Almeida (D), District 12
  • Arthur Handy (D), District 18
  • David Bennett (D), District 20
  • Justine Caldwell (D), District 30
  • Carol Hagan McEntee (D), District 33
  • Teresa Tanzi (D), District 34
  • Kathleen Fogarty (D), District 35
  • Lauren Niedel-Gresh (D), District 40
  • Michael Steiner (D), District 41
  • John “Jack” Lyle, Jr. (R), District 46
  • Michael Morin (D), District 49
  • Karen Alzate (D), District 60
  • Katherine Kazarian (D), District 63
  • Liana Cassar (D), District 66
  • Jason Knight (D), District 67
  • Laufton Asencao (D), District 68
  • Susan Donovan (D), District 69
  • Dennis Canario (D), District 71
  • Terri Cortvriend (D), District 72
  • Deborah Ruggiero (D), District 74
  • Lauren Carson (D), District 75
EcoWatch: The U.S. Defense Department Is Losing the Battle Against Climate Change

EcoWatch: The U.S. Defense Department Is Losing the Battle Against Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

A rock seawall protecting the Air Force’s Cape Lisburne Long Range Radar Station on the North East Alaska coast is under increasing duress from extreme weather patterns affecting Arctic sea ice. early $50 million has been spent replacing vulnerable parts of the wall already.

In 2013, a late summer monsoon rainstorm struck Fort Irwin, in California, flooding more than 160 buildings and causing extensive damage that took weeks to clean up. Some buildings were out of commission for months.

The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, one of the most destructive wildfires in Colorado’s history, only narrowly missed Peterson Air Force Base. The fire cost some $16 million to battle.

These are just some of the findings that make up a U.S. Department of Defense vulnerability report, published earlier this year, looking at the impact of climate change on more than 3,500 military installations. Its conclusion? That more than half of these installations are affected by flooding, drought, winds, wildfires, storm surges and extreme temperatures. Drought proved the single biggest challenge to the military, affecting nearly 800 bases. Next up was wind, which affected more than 750 bases, while non-storm surge-related flooding impacted a little more than 700 bases.

“As an institution, the military sees climate change as a threat to what they do on multiple levels,” said Michael Klare, professor emeritus of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College. “It’s a threat to their bases. It’s a threat to their operations. It creates insurgencies. t creates problems for them. They’re aware of that, and they want to minimize those impediments.”

Indeed, climate change has long been on the military’s radar. It was the George W. Bush administration, for example, that required the Defense Department to procure 25 percent of its energy for its buildings from renewables by 2025. Even President Ronald Reagan received military memos warning of global warming. While in 2014, the department published a roadmap establishing an outline to deal with the threats from climate change within the military, as ordered by then-President Barack Obama.

Although President Trump’s administration is known for its climate change denialism, major figures within the military are still noticeably vocal about the issue. In February, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned in a Worldwide Threat Assessment that the impacts from global warming—more air pollution, biodiversity loss and water scarcity—are “likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval—through 2018.” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been called the “lone green hope” for his long-established views on the threat of global warming.

Given the immediate threat of rising sea levels, the U.S. Navy is leading the charge to better understand these impacts at the ground level. Last year, a Navy handbook provided a planning framework for incorporating the threat of climate change into development projects at Navy installations. To put this into context, a 2016 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis of 18 military installations along the U.S. East coast and the Gulf of Mexico found that by 2050, most of these bases will experience 10 times the number of floods than they do currently. In about 80 years, eight of the bases could lose as much as 50 percent of their land to rising seas. Naval Air Station Key West, in Florida, could be almost entirely underwater by the end of the century.

“We did use the high sea level rise scenario because generally, the military has a low tolerance for risk,” said Shana Udvardy, UCS climate preparedness specialist and a co-author on the study. “And we’re basically on track for the high scenario because of the rate of ice sheet melting. It’s very likely to happen, and it’s after mid-century that we’ll really see the changes in the extent and frequency of tidal flooding.”

According to U.S. Geological Survey scientist Curt Storlazzi, who has studied the effects of global warming on military installations on the Marshall Islands for the Defense Department, the twin impacts of rising sea levels and storm waves will increase the magnitude of flooding there by “double” in the next couple of decades. “That’s going to negatively impact both the military and civilian populations,” he said. “That’s the big takeaway—most civilian and defense infrastructure doesn’t do well with salt water.”

The Center for Climate and Security, a non-partisan group of defense and national security experts, continues to study the myriad threats of climate change on the military. In this recent report, the group outlined how extreme weather patterns will expand the department’s role in tackling national and global security threats, highlighting how humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions are “increasingly important responsibilities for military commanders around the world.”

But former Rear Admiral David Titley, professor of meteorology at Penn State University and an expert in climate change, the Arctic and national security, argues that the military as a whole has yet to really grapple with the problem of climate change in any long-term strategic way, nor has it looked at how to cost-effectively prioritize resources—views mirrored in a recent Government Accountability Office report.

Change could be on its way in this regard. Rep. Jim Langevin, the ranking Democrat on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, pushed through an amendment in the 2018 defense spending bill directing the Defense Department to identify the 10 military installations most vulnerable to climate change and to identify ways to mitigate the forecasted damage. “You would argue that that’s where you put your first dollar towards buying down the risk,” Titley said. “There may be bases that have higher climate vulnerability, but the impact may not be that big a deal relative to others.”

Langevin also included a provision in the 2019 defense spending bill requiring the department to factor energy and climate resiliency efforts into major military installation plans. But Titley is circumspect about the Defense Department’s overall ability and willingness to institutionally get to grips with the problems climate change poses. “We’ll see whether the department of defense actually does that or not,” said Titley. “There’s no real leadership on this issue.”

Miriam Pemberton, a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, said that the military’s public overtures on climate change ring a little hollow when stacked up against the actual dollars directed toward green initiatives within the military—efforts like biofuel to power aircraft carriers and solar energy in combat zones.

According to an Institute report from last year, “Combat vs. Climate,” the ratio in military spending in 2017 to deal with regular security threats versus climate change was 28:1—a slight improvement on the 2015 ratio of 30:1. But as the report finds, “spending 28 times as much on traditional military security as on climate security is hardly commensurate with the magnitude of this ‘urgent and growing threat,’ as the military has defined it.”

Further, while the military’s budget grew by $61 billion in 2018, the amount of money the department continues to funnel toward green initiatives and renewable energies hasn’t grown proportionately, said Andrew Holland, the American Security Project’s director of studies. Nor does the military, he said, see its primary mission as tackling climate change. Indeed, the military is the world’s largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels. Last year, the department used more than 85 million barrels of fuel to power ships, aircraft, combat vehicles and contingency bases. The cost? Nearly $8.2 billion.

“We have a military whose job is to fight and win America’s wars,” Holland said. “But where you can take clean energy initiatives that fight climate change and also increase the military’s operational ability to fight and win those wars, that’s a double win.”

Another obstacle is that there’s no “line item for climate change” within the defense spending bill, said the UCS’s Shana Udvardy. “So, it’s really up to each installation to figure out where they’re going to get the resources, and which resources they’re going to allocate to these types of adaptation measures,” she said. What’s more, both Udvardy and Holland agree that the military has recently grown increasingly secretive about its green initiatives, for fear of retaliation by the White House.

Trump has already pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, for example, and signed an executive order rolling back all Obama-era climate change related actions within federal agencies. There are notable signs that this has trickled down to the Defense Department—the latest National Defense Strategy had been scrubbed clean of any reference to climate change, for example.

“None of us have any clue as to how bad it’s going to be,” said Michael Klare, about the impacts from global warming. “But this something that the military does understand better than most people—it’s not the polar bears we should be worried about, it’s about whole societies that are going to collapse and send out waves of migration, which we’re seeing already.”

The Hill: Congress falls flat on election security as midterms near

The Hill: Congress falls flat on election security as midterms near

By Jacqueline Thomsen

Congress has failed to pass any legislation to secure U.S. voting systems in the two years since Russia interfered in the 2016 election, a troubling setback with the midterms less than six weeks away.

Lawmakers have repeatedly demanded agencies step up their efforts to prevent election meddling but in the end struggled to act themselves, raising questions about whether the U.S. has done enough to protect future elections.

A key GOP senator predicted to The Hill last week that a bipartisan election security bill, seen as Congress’s best chance of passing legislation on the issue, wouldn’t pass before the midterms. And on Friday, House lawmakers left town for the campaign trail, ending any chance of clearing the legislation ahead of November.

Lawmakers have openly expressed frustration they were not able to act before the 2018 elections.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), who introduced the House version of the election security bill, said it was “disappointing.”

“If you want to call it a message that we’re sending to the American people, that we’re doing everything that we can to ensure that the integrity of the vote is sacred,” he said, “If we have these opportunities to do something and we don’t, then that definitely sends the wrong message. That maybe we just don’t care or whatever.”

Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), the co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said not passing the legislation was “a missed opportunity” to better protect U.S. elections.

“Every community needs to be on guard, alert and realize that the Russians are a very well-resourced and capable bad actor that are again trying to interfere with our elections,” he said.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the bill’s cosponsors, told The Hill that the text of the bill is still being worked out after recent changes prompted concerns from state election officials and the White House.

It had appeared the bill would make it across the finish line but last month Reuters reported that the White House had stepped in to hold up the bill. A GOP Senate aide told The Hill at the time that it was paused over a lack of Republican support and over concerns raised by outside groups.
The White House did not return multiple requests for comment, and a spokesperson for Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who delayed the bill’s markup, declined to comment further.

Lankford said the White House told him it had not held up the bill. But he added that “they didn’t talk to me about it in advance.”

Like other lawmakers and experts, Lankford pointed out that even if the bill had passed ahead of the midterms, it would still be too late to implement any of the measures ahead of November’s elections.

“The bigger issue is not the legislation,” Lankford said. “The bigger issue is what the administration has done in the meantime to try to actually get all this done.”

The Department of Homeland Security has offered some cybersecurity support to state election officials, and President Trump signed an executive order earlier this month authorizing sanctions against those found interfering in U.S. elections.

Lawmakers also included $380 million for states to update and secure their election systems in an appropriations bill passed in March. That funding was initially authorized under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, passed in response to the 2000 presidential election, but this year’s grants were the first authorized under the law since fiscal 2010.

However, when Democrats tried to pass more election security funding earlier this year, Republicans knocked down the measure, arguing that substantial funds had already been allocated.

Other security bills have also been introduced after the 2016 elections, but the bipartisan bill spearheaded by Lankford and Sen. Amy Klobuchar(D-Minn.) was touted as the best shot to legislation on the books shielding U.S. election systems from cyber attacks.

Even so, it remained the subject of extensive debate: The original bill included a pilot program for states to conduct audits on limiting risks, which would examine a number of ballots to ensure that systems weren’t compromised.

But that program became mandatory in a later version of the bill, costing it support from state officials and advocacy groups who argued the measure would be too great of a burden.

Voting groups have also voiced disappointment at the lack of action, but were quick to praise Klobuchar and Lankford’s bipartisan push to pass legislation.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D), the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), told The Hill that while many states are already implementing the measures that would be included in the bill, it was disappointing to not have them on the books. NASS has not taken a public stance on the legislation.

He said that the bill would “send a strong message” to bad cyber actors like Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election, as well as to Americans that their election systems are secure.

“I think this would go a long way to helping us let the public know that our systems are strong and, on top of that, that everyone takes [the issue] seriously,” Condos said.

It is unclear if Congress will be any closer to overcoming the hurdles to legislation after the midterms.

But advocates insist they will keep pushing for a solution.

“This is a time for unity where the country has to unite to fight off foreign meddling in our election because that undermines our democracy,” said Marian Schneider, the president of Verified Voting.
But she also noted that the Lankford-Klobuchar bill was originally introduced in December 2017 and that lawmakers had months to finalize the text.

“I think there’s an unfortunate thing going on here that whenever elections is the topic or is the subject area that it becomes politicized,” she said.

WJAR: Biden to RI Democrats: Midterms are ‘bigger than politics’

WJAR: Biden to RI Democrats: Midterms are ‘bigger than politics’

By Parker Gavigan

Hundreds of Democratic supporters skipped a beautiful Sunday afternoon to make their way to the Rhode Island Convention Center for party politics.

Squeezed into a small room on the top floor was a who’s who of Democratic lawmakers, warming up the crowd for the headliner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m from that other small state. The second smallest state. You guys have a bigger population than we do,” joked Biden about his home state of Delaware.

“We love Joe Biden. Hopefully, Joe will run for president in 2020,” said Norbet Oliveira, a union representative.

“Go for it,” said Debbie Marandola of Warwick.

Biden last stumped for local politicians in 2016, when he referred to some of Rhode Island’s largest bridges being held up by “damn Lincoln logs.”

This time, he reaffirmed his commitment to Rhode Island leaders.

“The thing that your delegation has, more than almost any, is people with great character, with backbone,” said Biden.

Gov. Gina Raimondo spoke for about 10 minutes, as did the state’s entire congressional delegation.

Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline and Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, coming off a busy week in Washington with the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearings, also rallied their troops.

Biden didn’t mention 2020, but said he believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was credible and deserved an FBI investigation after her accusations against Kavanaugh.

The former vice president also verbally attacked President Donald Trump and assaults on the free press, the Justice Department and other institutions.

He urged Democrats to turn out at the polls for the midterm elections.

“Folks, this election is bigger than politics. That’s not hyperbole. It’s bigger than politics. The core values that built this nation are at risk,” said Biden.

NK Standard Times: RI receives funding to battle opioid epidemic

NK Standard Times: RI receives funding to battle opioid epidemic

By Alex Trubia

WASHINGTON, D.C .– On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, and Governor Gina Raimondo announced $12.6 million in federal funding for Rhode Island’s battle against the opioid epidemic.  

Rhode Island’s share from a grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) rose from $2.1 million last year to $12.6 million as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the Omnibus Appropriations law.

All four members of the delegation voted for the Omnibus, which included a $3.3 billion boost this year for opioid funding, with $142 million set aside specifically for states with the highest mortality rates from overdoses.

“This boost in federal funds will help those on the frontlines prevent drug abuse and treat addiction,”  said Reed. “This is a smart investment in the health and well-being of people and our communities.”

Whitehouse, who is also the author of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic that was signed into law in 2016, said Rhode Islanders have been “fighting courageously against opioid addiction” and have “made real gains.”

“To protect those gains, and to honor the people walking the long, noble road of recovery, we need to fund efforts that work,” Whitehouse added. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in the delegation to support this funding and the work of everyone on the front lines of this crisis in Rhode Island.”

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, there were 323 accidental drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island last year, down from 336 in 2016–a year in which, as per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation.

Langevin said he was also proud to fight alongside the rest of the state’s delegation for “this substantial funding increase and help deliver necessary resources to combat the opioid overdose epidemic in Rhode Island.”

“This public health crisis requires a comprehensive approach, and I remain dedicated to supporting these critical efforts at the federal level,” he added.

The funding is part of a $930 million round of grants nationwide that was first authorized by Congress in 2016 in the 21st Century Cures Act, which allocated $1 billion in funding for states to prevent and treat addiction.

Cicilline said it’s this type of federal funding that will “help save lives here in Rhode Island by providing resources to programs fighting this epidemic.”

“Rhode Island has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis and so many Rhode Island families have been devastated as a result,” he said. “The magnitude of this public health crisis requires a comprehensive national strategy and significant federal resources to finally end this epidemic.”

And Raimondo said the opioid overdose epidemic is “the biggest public health crisis facing Rhode Island today,” which is why the delegation has “launched an aggressive effort to combat it with every tool at our disposal.”

“This funding will be absolutely critical as we continue to fight to save lives,” the governor said.  “Rhode Island is fortunate to have outspoken advocates in our congressional delegation, and I thank each of them for their steadfast commitment to fighting this crisis.”

The grant will go to Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) to help prevention efforts, expand treatment capacity for medication assisted treatment as well as residential treatment for individuals and families, launch mobile treatment and induction services to reach under-served areas, increase availability of recovery support services and recovery housing, create a statewide pre-arrest diversion program and purchase lifesaving Naloxone.

Block Island Times: Langevin tours the island

Block Island Times: Langevin tours the island

By Cassius Shuman

It was smooth sailing under sunny skies for Congressman James Langevin, who took the Block Island Ferry over to the island to visit with his constituents on Sept. 20.  Langevin toured the island, as is customary each year, visiting the Block Island School, the Block Island Power Company, North Light Fibers, the Medical Center, and The National Hotel, where he participated in a meet and greet luncheon hosted by the Democratic Town Committee.

Topics that Langevin discussed during his visit were the current state of affairs in Washington under the Trump administration, the importance of voting in November, gun control, the affordable care act and healthcare, environmental protection and climate change, the importance of creating jobs, higher wages, student loans, and education. Langevin, who has served for 18 years in Congress, said he was “optimistic about the upcoming November election.”

While speaking with The Block Island Times at the school, Langevin said his message to the public heading into the mid-term election is to, “Get out and vote. I’m hoping there is a good voter turnout, and it sends a message to Washington that the direction we’re going in is the wrong direction.”

Langevin, a Democrat, said the Republicans in Congress are ineffective in standing up to the administration, and are a detriment to social, economic and environmental programs. “Look at the tax reform bill that was passed by this administration; it’s written to benefit corporations and the wealthiest one percent,” he said.

During a discussion with the Student Council, teacher Jayne Conway asked Langevin if a “blue wave” happens during the upcoming election, will “impeachment be on the table?” A blue wave would mean that the Democratic Party was elected to a majority in both houses of Congress in November.

“There is a possibility of a blue wave,” but it is “too early to think about impeachment” of the President, he said. “We need Robert Mueller to finish his (Special Counsel) investigation, and then we’ll go from there.” Mueller, who is Special Counsel for the Department of Justice, is leading a law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  

Student Mac Brown asked the congressman what his hardest decision has been during his tenure in Congress. Langevin said voting on the Iraq War, which he opposed, was a really “tough” decision. “I had to weigh all of the information, and whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

After meeting with the Student Council, Langevin spent time chatting with fellow wheelchair user Mason Miro, who has been recognized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association as a special Ambassador. The two chatted about their wheelchair designs, school, and Block Island. Mason, who is a fourth grade student, told Langevin that his favorite class was gym.

“I’m glad you’re raising awareness (about Muscular Dystrophy),” said Langevin of Miro. “I’m really proud of you.”

“We all are,” said school Principal Kristine Monje.

Town Council members who attended Langevin’s lunch at The National echoed his sentiments about voting and lauded his appearance on the island. First Warden Ken Lacoste was not in attendance. At one point, Langevin was pulled away from the luncheon to speak on his cellphone with Cristopher Krebs, who is Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. 

Sen. Susan Sosnowski, who represents Block Island, and toured the island with Langevin, said, “I think it’s really important that the congressman continues to support Block Island. He is always reachable on issues concerning the island.” Sosnowski added: “I don’t think a lot of people know what Jim deals with every day. He deserves a lot of credit — he’s an inspiration.”

Councilor Chris Willi said, “Voting is crucial. Get your two cents in,” before noting that Langevin “does a good job of getting out into the community.”

“It shows that he cares. It’s a good representation of listening to people, and experiencing different things,” remarked Councilor Sven Risom.

Councilor Martha Ball said it was “good to have someone representing us who comes and visits the island. It’s always a good connection to have.”

Inside Cybersecurity: Pelosi appoints Langevin to Cyberspace Solarium Commission, as House passes four cyber-related bills

Inside Cybersecurity: Pelosi appoints Langevin to Cyberspace Solarium Commission, as House passes four cyber-related bills

By Maggie Miller

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) to the newly created Cyberspace Solarium Commission on Tuesday, while the House passed four cyber-related bills including one to create a vulnerability disclosure program at the Department of Homeland Security.

Pelosi named Langevin and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) to the commission, created under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. The House minority leader is required to appoint two members of the Commission, one of whom must not be a current member of the House.

“Cyberspace is the future, and will grow even more important to driving American leadership and innovation in the years to come,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Guided by Rep. Langevin and former Rep. Murphy, this Commission will be a vital tool in keeping America safe, strong and free.”

Langevin, the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said in a statement he was “honored” to be appointed, and called for the commission to develop a “strategic framework” for international cyber “stability.”

“It is imperative that we use the opportunity afforded by the Solarium Commission to develop a strategic framework that encompasses these challenges and ensures the United States continues to benefit from global cyber stability,” Langevin said. “It is my expectation that such a strategy will encompass all elements of national power – economic, diplomatic and military – and help contextualize cyber in the broader national and economic security discussion.”

The Speaker of the House is designated to appoint three members, with the Senate majority leader to designate three, and the Senate minority leader to pick two members. Other members of the commission automatically include the FBI director, the deputy secretaries of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, and the principal deputy director of National Intelligence.

The commission is charged with developing a “strategic approach” to defend the U.S. in cyberspace against “cyber attacks of significant consequences.”

Bills move in House

On Tuesday, the House approved four cybersecurity bills, including H.R. 6735, the Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation Act. The bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) directs the DHS secretary to establish a “vulnerability disclosure policy” for DHS internet sites within 90 days of the legislation being signed into law.

The House Homeland Security Committee approved the bill earlier this month, and Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) spoke on the floor in favor of passage, saying it would give a “legal avenue” to allow researchers from the private sector to identify cyber flaws in DHS’ systems.

“Between 2011 and 2013, Iranian hackers attacked dozens of American banks and even tried to shut down a dam in New York,” McCaul said. “In 2014, Chinese hackers stole over 22.5 million security clearances, including my own, from the Office of Personnel Management. In 2016, Russia meddled in our Presidential election, and because we use computer networks in our personal and professional lives, almost everyone is a target. With each passing day, cyber threats continue to grow. But the government cannot face these threats alone. We need help from the private sector.”

McCaul also spoke in favor of another bill passed Tuesday, H.R. 6620, the Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act, sponsored by Homeland Security cyber subcommittee ranking member Cedric Richmond (D-LA). This bill would require DHS to prepare a threat assessment related to unmanned aircraft systems, and was previously approved by the House Homeland Security Committee.

“The threats we face from drones are constantly evolving as the technology becomes more accessible across the globe,” McCaul said on H.R. 6620. “We need to do more to confront these dangers.”

The House passed two more bills: H.R. 5433, the Hack Your State Department Act, sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), to establish a “bug bounty” program at the State Department; and H.R. 6229, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), which supports cyber programs at NIST.

MeriTalk: Langevin, Murphy Added to Cyberspace Solarium Commission

MeriTalk: Langevin, Murphy Added to Cyberspace Solarium Commission

By MeriTalk

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has appointed Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and former Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., to the recently created Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a 14-member public-private panel charged with developing consensus and actionable strategy to protect and defend the U.S. in cyberspace. Legislation creating the commission was approved as part of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Langevin is a co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. Murphy was a congressman from 2007 to 2011, and is a former under Secretary of the Army.