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SWIM EMPOWERMENT

The fatal drowning rate of African American children aged 5-14 is three times that of white children. This startling statistic may be attributed to the fact that 70% of African Americans do not know how to swim. Swim Empowerment seeks to change these numbers by giving Rhode Island youth direct access to the resources they need to learn how to swim: transportation, open pools, and highly qualified, culturally-sensitive swimming instructors.

FUERZA LABORAL

A workers' rights center in Central Falls, Rhode Island whose mission is to shift the balance of power in our economy towards labor by  organizing workers to become community leaders; by taking direct action to recover unpaid wages and improve workplace conditions; by forcing institutional changes that will better prevent injustices, and by creating co-ops that provide living-wage employment instead of the low-wage, exploitative jobs typically reserved for immigrants and people of color.

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ADAMS PUBLIC LIBRARY

The Adams Public Library primarily serves Central Falls residents of all ages by providing access to materials and services which meet their informational, educational and recreational needs. The library is dedicated to serving the needs of the community.

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HIAS

HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in more than 20 countries. They work to resettle refugees, end gender-based violence, support community mental health, provide legal support, promote economic inclusion, respond to emergencies, and advocate for refugee rights. 

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Jake and Elena have lived together for fifty years and apart for forty of those years. They are each stuck in what they know, and even more stuck in what they know about one another.  Now, at seventy and running out of time, both start to wonder about the other.  And learn something that shocks each of them, and one another.

Image by Daniel AP from Pexels.com

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Bridge Freezes Before Road Surface

Bruce Collins is a roofing contractor. It is the middle of the 2007-2008 Great Recession, and Bruce is between a rock and a hard place.  He has to pay child support, his mortgage and make his truck payment.  There is almost no work.  He is back to working on roofs himself.  Then his left shoulder starts to hurt…

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Home Sweet Home 

Glenn Shandy is a firefighter and an EMT. He is done, just done, with the chaos of life in these times, and he is armed and ready to defend America.  Then his brother Jack, who served in Iraq and in Afghanistan (and who we know from The Death Spiral) asks him to put up two Afghani refugees.  Things blow up, quite literally.  And people change, despite themselves.

Get this image on: iStock | License details

Creator: bortonia | Credit: Getty Images

Copyright: Jennifer Borton

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The Gulf of Aqaba

A terrible tragedy happens to a family of Americans vacationing in Israel.  Their family in the US tries to deal with it.  The differences between people in that family make the pain worse and drives them further apart.  Until they come together again, briefly, by accident.  Until they each learn something about one another and themselves.

Image by worldatlas.com found here https://www.worldatlas.com/gulfs/gulf-of-suez.html

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Somehow

A woman develops abdominal pain, which worsens as she begins to fade from life, sensing that she has outlived her usefulness.  Then something happens that changes her perspective on herself and her world, and changes the perspective of everyone around her.

Image from VCU Libraries at https://flickr.com/photos/26324140@N02/4269771776

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Big

A man takes a train across the country to see his son run in the Olympic trials.  He sees and feels the size of things.  And on that trip finds out what is really big.

Image by Vincent Lock at https://www.flickr.com/photos/27630470@N03/5107574751

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The Stable

A loner walks into a Kenite camp in the Great Rift Valley desert just east of the Red Sea about 1400 BCE, and reluctantly tells a fantastic story. He seems like
someone who imagines things, but also like he is a man on a mission. We recognize him, of course, but to the people in the camp he was just one more
woebegone stranger, at least at first.

Image by Anupamg at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Horse_stables_18.JPG
 

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April

Sammy Li, who you met briefly in The White Donkey, returns to the house he abandoned ten years before and finds a squatter living there, a squatter who is Sammy’s worse nightmare, who reminds Sammy of everything he has been trying to forget.

Photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne from https://freeimages.com

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Mothers' Days

Gloria Seal has three children and a mother who doesn’t like her very much.  Her mother, her brothers and lots of other people think Gloria is just dull.  But Gloria, who loves her kids, particularly her baby daughter Impanema, doesn’t let that bother her.  She just keeps on working to hold her family together. Tragedy strikes.  How can she understand it?  How can she make sense of herself, her home, her mother, her love for her mother, her children and her life?

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The White Donkey

Diane Li, a woman who left her husband, hears that her sister-in-law Jennifer is critically ill.  She’s too embarrassed to call or visit because she feels the shame of the family’s judgement and because she feels that she has let everyone down. But Diane’s life and her own choices aren’t working out either, so she returns home to redeem what she can of the relationships that matter. And finds her way to a redemption of a different sort.

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The Man With No Nose

A man with no nose drives into town and slowly, insidiously, takes over.  There is no resistance.  There is barely any notice.  The town goes into lock-down and things get worse and worse, as the people in the town watch, only a little curious

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The Kaddisher

Howard Levitan was his father’s Kaddisher, the son who was supposed to say Kaddish for his father and keep his father’s memory alive. And Howard’s father was Howard’s grandfather’s Kaddisher.  But who would become Howard’s grandfather’s Kaddisher, once Howard’s father died?

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The Social Determinants of Health

Humans are born free but everywhere are in chains. Social conditions influence us. Our strength and our choices, our love and our determination, matter more. Love matters. And perhaps it is even stronger than death after all.

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Isaiah on Route 6

A prophet walks down Route 6 in Scituate and Johnston, Rhode Island dressed in sack-cloth and ashes.  Can anyone even see her?  How do the biases we hold about one another keep us from seeing one another and ourselves?  Is the gulf that separates us unbridgeable?  Must it always end in tragedy?

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The Blind Emperor

Abe Klein is the Blind Emperor, a man who lives mostly in his own head.  His life has not turned out the way he thought it would.  Then one day a beautiful young woman with pink and blue hair and many piercings walks into his shop, and Abe’s life changes.

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The Four Fingered Horse

A man has horses and feeds them.  He dreams about them.  They provide the order and purpose in his life.  Then other men come and remove his ability to care for his horses.  What will he do?  Where will he go?

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COVID-19 and The Supreme Court: Coronavirus, Chaos and Democracy

This story is about the abject failure to control and contain Coronavirus in the US.  Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh reminded us, at his confirmation hearing, that “boys and girls like beer.”  Our failure to control Coronavirus came about because we have allowed democracy to wither, because we expect nothing more from one another than “liking beer.”

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Nero

A Liberian internet entrepreneur from North Providence, Rhode Island falls in love, sort of, with a Honduran doctor he meets when she comes to clean his mother’s house.

Now is the Cool of the Day

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“Ted?  Looking for a cosmic lost object?  I don’t think so,” Althea said.  “He might go looking for a lost golf ball.  Or for a quickie in the bushes with someone in a low-cut dress who’s had three martinis at a garden party, after the sun has set.  I don’t think there’s more there than that.  But perhaps I am missing something.”

 

“Perhaps.  Perhaps not,” Dvorah said, and she looked out at the sea again.

 

“I see this as an opportunity,” Althea said.  “Your moment to shine.  Your moment to live as you want to live.  To define yourself. To live your life fully, if you know what I mean.  Satisfaction is something every woman deserves.”

Image from Boston Public Library 1930-1945, https://jenikirbyhistory.getarchive.net/amp/media/newport-beach-newport-ri-40041e

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The Moment Arm of the Universe

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You don’t know what you don’t know.  That was what Arch thought when his boy Hugo said to meet down in that park on the West Side, the one out past Silver Lake with that big hill on it where they got the skateboard park and the swimming pool and the inside court and a whole mess of outside courts now.  You can’t change history.  You play the cards you are dealt.  The world turns with you on it, and you can’t do one thing about that so you make the best of what you’ve got.

Image 1 by https://www.pickpik.com/photo-beige-brown-mansion-victorian-house-victorian-57765

Image 2 by NASA on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7309213060

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The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

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They call themselves a start-up nation. What ever happened to the People of the Book? What ever happened to study, observance, and humility? Who did these people think they were?

 

He shrank, contracting into himself. Don’t they know? he thought. Don’t they know what happens to us when they see us? That should we raise our heads, those heads will be cut off?

Photo by Will Hart, 2009, https://www.flickr.com/photos/cthulhuwho1/3830824612

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That was her Brother who was Naked

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Bill didn’t think their thing would last two weeks. Thing. It was just a thing. There just wasn’t a better word to describe it. An exploration. An opportunity. A little moment in time. In a time of situation-ships, not relationships. In the time of global warming, war in Ukraine, Trumpian nonsense, US democracy falling apart at its seams, inflation, banks in constant chaos, China on the rise, dictators replacing democracies around the world, the tail of the pandemic etcetera etcetera and so forth. When nothing could be counted on, when there are no rules and no consequences and nothing and nobody is who they seem to be. And nothing matters. In a time of distraction, not passion or meaning.​

PeakPx, https://www.peakpx.com/576902/3-elephants

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The Tactical Importance of Beauty 

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Better to kill a man in a firefight, a man with an equal chance to you. To kill a man who has no chance of survival is like being an accomplice in a suicide, an accessory to murder, even if you are the one who is pulling the trigger and are the murderer yourself. It makes us feel dirty, just workers on an assembly line, not warriors.  

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A Warming Trend

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The cold had come slowly to the Northeast, but it had arrived at last. The ground was finally frozen. There was no ooze when you walked on the grass, no give. Walking on grass or dirt was like walking on concrete. The leaves were long gone from the trees. There were some winter birds, of course, sparrows and tits that skittled in the bushes, trying not to freeze to death, sorry perhaps, in the manner birds can be sorry, that they were not built to fly south. The sun stayed low on the horizon and glared into your eyes when you drove or on walks, which you had to force yourself to take. The days were short. Grey light at dawn. Sun dropping near the horizon about two-thirty and gone by four. No moths fluttering around the porchlight now. Nothing moving. Everything still.

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The Sad and Lonely Death of Katydid Desroisiers

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You never know what you are made of until you find out by making a choice and acting on it.  There wasn’t one moment or one event that got Katy going. Sher just woke up one day in  Nashville, saw James for who he was, saw herself for who she was, and knew this wasn’t the  choice she had made, this had all just happened by itself. 

Then she walked out. Took a bus home.

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Is Socialism on the Rise?

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It was December. It was raining and cool but not too cold yet, thank God. The rain made the marble blocks of the esplanade glisten. The wet marble reflected the statehouse lights and the emergency lights of the police cars which lit up the dark morning. Better rain than snow, Vernon thought. An inch of rain equals ten inches of snow. If the air was ten degrees colder, they’d all be standing in slushy mess, the homeless people would be more miserable yet and the demonstrators would be home in their nice warm houses. But bellyaching anyway.

Image by Steve Alhquist, UpriseRI

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Dust

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Dust to dust. Dust covers all our acts, transgressions and possessions, conveying a message: you aren’t much and won’t last. Live it up while you can.

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Dead Cat Bounce

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People got depressed. Felt trapped. Couldn’t see a way out. Drugs hit, heroin and crack cocaine. The buildings burned – sometimes set afire by old electrical systems that hadn’t been maintained but often torched by their landlords for the insurance money. Friction fires, they called them. When the mortgage rubs up against the insurance. Other buildings, abandoned but not burned down yet but now owned by the City for delinquent taxes, were boarded up to prevent anyone from living there in unsafe conditions. Which they did anyway, as junkies and others broke in and just squatted in those old buildings, turning them into real hellholes. Whole blocks came down or were boarded up. You could walk down a street and see only broken brick, shattered glass, feral cats and wild dogs. In the United States of America. In 1977.

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Men Love War

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He sat for a few minutes, and thought, nothing happening. This is dumb. Time to pack it up and go home.

 

But then he saw the little kid from the other day walking up the street toward him. On the same side of the street as the blue-gray Sienna. Harmless little kid. Helmet that looked way too big for him under one arm. Back-pack under the other. Maybe it was all okay. Maybe the world wasn’t gone completely to shit yet.

 

And then he heard the shots.

Image by Toniklemm

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Norman_High_School_football_field.jpg

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The Shabbos Goy

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Sometimes Casper wondered why they wanted him there. He wasn’t any real security. Maybe the locked door kept out homeless people or neighborhood kids, but almost everyone who came to the door belonged inside, so he never turned anyone away. It wasn’t Casper’s job to say this one can enter but this one cannot. It was his job to sit there and open the door for anyone who came.

 

 

Image by Kenneth C. Zirkel 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sons_of_Jacob_Synagogue-front.jpg 

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The Deer in the Swimming Pool 

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He heard something through the hush. It sounded like splashing. Lewis listened again. Sometimes a wind whipped the surface of the swimming pool into little waves which lapped over the edges of the pool, running over the concrete skirt around the pool and that made a sound, a flat regular sound like that of pancake being flipped as it landed back in the pan. But there was no wind. And this was splashing, chaotic, rambunctious, and irregular. Was someone, or something, in his swimming pool?

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Freedom

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Bombs fell.  Artillery shells whizzed and then the earth shook, like a chair thrown against the wall, one chair after another after the next, the wall and the earth pushed out and then somehow rebounding, shock and aftershock, the earth trembling more than it was still. They destroyed the public buildings and the apartment blocks. All rubble now, all blackened shells. Missiles whined overhead, sometimes ten or fifteen a day.  The earth shuddered.  This can’t last forever, Svetlana thought.  Someone will come to stop it, to make the world rational.  To open the schools. Or the earth itself will give out.

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When Rae-Anne came home from work dog-tired and weak from hunger, Marcus was snoring on the couch in the living room with his feet on the coffee table just like always. Marcus was a big man, and dark. Two-hundred and fifty pounds if he was an ounce. He wanted what he wanted and took it: he knew how to throw his weight around. Not that Rae-Anne was any kind of wilting flower herself. She was bigger than Marcus if you was counting pounds. She was big in the middle -- she wasn’t even five-foot-four. Good things come in short packages.

Image by Sencha from Pexels

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When the news of the Omicron variant spread around the globe, Shulamit Jablowski told her lover Ahmed to stay in France. Ahmed was from Côte d'Ivoire.  Shulamit lived in Providence, Rhode Island, in a second story walk-up on Broadway near Parade Street and was in a new relationship with a woman she’d met on Facebook, a woman she wasn’t sure was even real.  But she didn’t want to break Ahmed’s heart again. 

Image by James Wheeler from Pexels

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Cathi Westrick-Abrams was a kind and tolerant person, and she had done the work, she thought, until she saw the bear scat in the woods.  And then….well, read the story and you’ll see for yourself.

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Jake and Elena have lived together for fifty years and apart for forty of those years. They are each stuck in what they know, and even more stuck in what they know about one another.  Now, at seventy and running out of time, both start to wonder about the other.  And learn something that shocks each of them, and one another.

Image by Daniel AP from Pexels.com

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Bridge Freezes Before Road Surface

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Bruce Collins is a roofing contractor. It is the middle of the 2007-2008 Great Recession, and Bruce is between a rock and a hard place.  He has to pay child support, his mortgage and make his truck payment.  There is almost no work.  He is back to working on roofs himself.  Then his left shoulder starts to hurt…

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Home Sweet Home 

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Glenn Shandy is a firefighter and an EMT. He is done, just done, with the chaos of life in these times, and he is armed and ready to defend America.  Then his brother Jack, who served in Iraq and in Afghanistan (and who we know from The Death Spiral) asks him to put up two Afghani refugees.  Things blow up, quite literally.  And people change, despite themselves.

Get this image on: iStock | License details

Creator: bortonia | Credit: Getty Images

Copyright: Jennifer Borton

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The Gulf of Aqaba

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A terrible tragedy happens to a family of Americans vacationing in Israel.  Their family in the US tries to deal with it.  The differences between people in that family make the pain worse and drives them further apart.  Until they come together again, briefly, by accident.  Until they each learn something about one another and themselves.

Image by worldatlas.com found here https://www.worldatlas.com/gulfs/gulf-of-suez.html

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Somehow

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A woman develops abdominal pain, which worsens as she begins to fade from life, sensing that she has outlived her usefulness.  Then something happens that changes her perspective on herself and her world, and changes the perspective of everyone around her.

Image from VCU Libraries at https://flickr.com/photos/26324140@N02/4269771776

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Big

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A man takes a train across the country to see his son run in the Olympic trials.  He sees and feels the size of things.  And on that trip finds out what is really big.

Image by Vincent Lock at https://www.flickr.com/photos/27630470@N03/5107574751

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The Stable

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A loner walks into a Kenite camp in the Great Rift Valley desert just east of the Red Sea about 1400 BCE, and reluctantly tells a fantastic story. He seems like someone who imagines things, but also like he is a man on a mission. We recognize him, of course, but to the people in the camp he was just one more woebegone stranger, at least at first.

Image by Anupamg at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Horse_stables_18.JPG
 

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April

old-farmhouse-1-1455975 (1).jpg

Sammy Li, who you met briefly in The White Donkey, returns to the house he abandoned ten years before and finds a squatter living there, a squatter who is Sammy’s worse nightmare, who reminds Sammy of everything he has been trying to forget.

Photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne from https://freeimages.com

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Mothers' Days

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Gloria Seal has three children and a mother who doesn’t like her very much. Her mother, her brothers and lots of other people think Gloria is just dull. But Gloria, who loves her kids, particularly her baby daughter Impanema, doesn’t let that bother her. She just keeps on working to hold her family together. Tragedy strikes.  How can she understand it?  How can she make sense of herself, her home, her mother, her love for her mother, her children and her life?

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The White Donkey

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Diane Li, a woman who left her husband, hears that her sister-in-law Jennifer is critically ill.  She’s too embarrassed to call or visit because she feels the shame of the family’s judgement and because she feels that she has let everyone down. But Diane’s life and her own choices aren’t working out either, so she returns home to redeem what she can of the relationships that matter. And finds her way to a redemption of a different sort.

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The Man With No Nose

Copy of 3220db942c371a4fc5a5df327a332f70

A man with no nose drives into town and slowly, insidiously, takes over.  There is no resistance.  There is barely any notice.  The town goes into lock-down and things get worse and worse, as the people in the town watch, only a little curious

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The Kaddisher

hasidic-jews-v2.jpg

Howard Levitan was his father’s Kaddisher, the son who was supposed to say Kaddish for his father and keep his father’s memory alive. And Howard’s father was Howard’s grandfather’s Kaddisher.  But who would become Howard’s grandfather’s Kaddisher, once Howard’s father died?

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The Social Determinants of Health

Forest_at_Dusk.jpg

Humans are born free but everywhere are in chains. Social conditions influence us. Our strength and our choices, our love and our determination, matter more. Love matters. And perhaps it is even stronger than death after all.

Want to share with friends? Download the PDF above and email to your contacts  -- or just click the "share" button to post on Facebook!

Isaiah on Route 6

rt6_edited_edited.jpg

A prophet walks down Route 6 in Scituate and Johnston, Rhode Island dressed in sack-cloth and ashes.  Can anyone even see her?  How do the biases we hold about one another keep us from seeing one another and ourselves?  Is the gulf that separates us unbridgeable?  Must it always end in tragedy?

Want to share with friends? Download the PDF above and email to your contacts  -- or just click the "share" button to post on Facebook!

The Blind Emperor

tingey-injury-law-firm-yCdPU73kGSc-unspl

Abe Klein is the Blind Emperor, a man who lives mostly in his own head.  His life has not turned out the way he thought it would.  Then one day a beautiful young woman with pink and blue hair and many piercings walks into his shop, and Abe’s life changes.

Want to share with friends? Download the PDF above and email to your contacts  -- or just click the "share" button to post on Facebook!

The Four Fingered Horse

pexels-mat-reding-4394186.jpg

A man has horses and feeds them.  He dreams about them.  They provide the order and purpose in his life.  Then other men come and remove his ability to care for his horses.  What will he do?  Where will he go?

Want to share with friends? Download the PDF above and email to your contacts  -- or just click the "share" button to post on Facebook!

COVID-19 and The Supreme Court: Coronavirus, Chaos and Democracy

61tLSsfl4LL.jpg

This story is about the abject failure to control and contain Coronavirus in the US.  Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh reminded us, at his confirmation hearing, that “boys and girls like beer.”  Our failure to control Coronavirus came about because we have allowed democracy to wither, because we expect nothing more from one another than “liking beer.”

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Nero

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A Liberian internet entrepreneur from North Providence, Rhode Island falls in love, sort of, with a Honduran doctor he meets when she comes to clean his mother’s house.

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