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|Santa and his helpers deliver Christmas spirit early in BostonBoston News / 2 h. 35 min. ago more|
Part of the convention center was transformed into a carnival at the annual "Winter Wonderland" for thousands of homeless children and their families. December 17, 2017 Staff photo by Chris Christo Volunteers assist guests at the annual "Winter Wonderland" for thousands of homeless children and their families held at the Boston Convention Center.
|Business success dependent on CFOs becoming technology evangelistsBizjournals.com / 3 h. 42 min. ago more|
Modernizing the office of the chief financial officer (CFO) means revamping traditional roles that focused on risk, controls and timeliness of financial statements. Today’s CFO is working towards strategic partnering within the organization. CFOs and finance leaders must become more tech savvy to help drive innovation and organizational success. Being tech-forward and aware of the current and needed solutions across lines of business earns you a seat at the table to assist in the decisions rather…
|Break-In Suspect Steals Only Family DogCBSlocal.com / 3 h. 52 min. ago more|
BOSTON (CBS) – A Newton family says the only thing stolen when thieves broke into their home was their beloved family dog. “These two days have been horrifying. A nightmare. I don’t understand if it’s a joke,” said Vanessa Kelly. The family’s 1-year old Havanese dog, Maxi, went missing on Friday. Kelly and Andres Zuniga allege that thieves broke in through their basement window and took off with only the dog. A dog taken from a Newton home. (WBZ-TV) “He was not barking. We couldn’t hear anything. We immediately knew Maxi wasn’t in the house,” said Andres Zuniga. The dog bed is empty, and the house is much quieter now that Maxi’s gone. The family’s two young children are devastated. “Please, please. Understand this is not just a dog. It’s a family member. We’ve had him for a year,” said Zuniga. The person suspected of taking a dog from a Newton home made entrance through a window. (WBZ-TV) The family found footprints and a broken window screen outside of their home. “We haven’t been able to feel safe in this house,” Zuniga explained. The family has been posting flyers around the neighborhood, advertising a high reward. They’re hoping whoever took Maxi will bring him home safe.
|Boy Hailed As Hero For Alerting Family To Overnight FireCBSlocal.com / 5 h. 21 min. ago more|
HAVERHILL (CBS) – Stephen Clarke says his grandson is the reason his family is alive today after fire ripped through their Haverhill home early Sunday morning. The fire broke out at a 3-story home on Phillips Street. Flames rip through a Haverhill home. (Courtesy Photo) Eleven-year-old Tyler smelled smoke, and woke his grandparents and older sister. “Tyler is hero not me he’s the one who woke up his grandmother and sister and got me. He said he smelled smoke and when (his sister) went into the bedroom it was in flames,” homeowner Stephen Clark said. Eleven-year-old Tyler helped alert his family to an overnight fire. (WBZ-TV) Stephen says around 2 a.m., Tyler woke up by the smell of smoke. “You wouldn’t believe how proud I am. Because I wouldn’t have gotten out if (the fire) got down the hallway. I was on the third floor and there’s only one way out,” Clark said. All four people made it out safely. Clark says it only took seconds for the fire to engulf the house. Damage left behind by a Haverhill house fire. (WBZ-TV) Later in the day Sunday, family members collected whatever they could salvage, which isn’t much. “I just want my grandkids to have a Christmas,” Clark said. A relative set up an online fundraising page to help raise money for the children. “Clothes, shoes everything is gone so anything helps,” cousin Samatha Meletis said. Family members remove whatever they can salvage from their heavily damaged home. (WBZ-TV) Clarke says while he may have lost everything in this house fire, he is so thankful his family is safe. The holidays have been tough for this family over the years. “Two years ago I lost my mother in December and my brother four years ago in December. And November 30, 10 years ago my father. So the holidays are tough,” Clark said. Clark says an electrical fire sparked the blaze. The fire remains under investigation.
|Referee Tony Corrente Explains Controversial Call On Steelers’ Overturned Touchdown Vs. PatriotsCBSlocal.com / 5 h. 33 min. ago more|
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston BOSTON (CBS) — For a moment, the Pittsburgh Steelers had taken a lead over the Patriots in the final minute of Sunday afternoon’s game. But then, it was taken away. After reviewing Jesse James’ apparent touchdown with 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter, replay officials ruled to overturn the call. Referee Tony Corrente explained in his announcement that “the receiver in the end zone did not survive the ground,” and therefore did not catch the ball. The Steelers still had plenty of time to either score the winning touchdown or kick an easy tying field goal to force overtime, but Ben Roethlisberger ended up throwing an interception in the end zone to lose the game. Steelers tight end Jesse James reacts after scoring what looked to be the game-winning TD vs. the Patriots. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Because of the outcome, and because of the perpetually ambiguous nature of what constitutes a catch in the NFL, the overturned play became a point of some debate after the Patriots’ 27-24 victory. Corrente explained the call and the decision after the game to a pool reporter. (Transcript provided by the NFL, and shortened for brevity and clarity.) On the touchdown that was called back, what was the review? “We were inside of two minutes and in order to have a completed psas, a receiver must survive going to the ground. In this case, he had control of the football but he was going to the ground. As he hit the ground, the ball began to roll and rotate and the ball hit the ground and that’s the end of it at that point. On whether it matters that he was untouched or that his knee was down: “He lost complete control of the football. That was the ruling out of the replay.” On the terminology that he used: “I said that he just didn’t survive the ground. That’s the terminology that we use in officiating. You have to survive the ground, which means that you have to maintain control of the football.” On whether this is similar to the Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant play of several years ago in the playoffs: “I can’t comment on Dez Bryant. I can only tell you that in this case, he went to the ground and had lost control of the ball. The ball hit the ground and that means, at that point, it’s incomplete pass whether he was touched or not.” The explanation won’t help soothe any feelings in Pittsburgh. “I’m sick about it. I’ll be thinking about this the rest of the night,” James said, according to ESPN. “I had my knee down, turned up the field. Whether they consider that a football move or not is up to them to decide. I guess I don’t know a lot of things about football. I thought it was a touchdown for sure.” Receiver JuJu Smitch-Schuster had a more succinct summation of events. “It sucks, honestly. That was a [B.S.] call by the refs,” Smith-Schuster said. Former NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino, however, said the rule was correctly applied. “That’s the rule and it’s a bright line,” Blandino tweeted. “If you are going to the ground to make the catch you have to hold onto the ball when you land. He isn’t a runner until he completes the catch so goal line is not a factor. It’s an incomplete pass.” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who’s seen it all in his decades on the sideline, was asked if he was surprised by the overturned call. “It looked like the ball moved,” Belichick answered, before quickly correcting course. “You’ll have to talk to the [officiating] crew about that.” You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
|Four Ups, Four Downs From Patriots’ Thrilling Win Over SteelersCBSlocal.com / 6 h. 6 min. ago more|
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston BOSTON (CBS) — Well. That was some football game, eh? For the majority of the late afternoon — say, from 10 minutes into the first quarter until the final seconds of the fourth quarter — it appeared as though the Patriots were going to lose the football game. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski — and then, Dion Lewis — valiantly drove the Patriots to a comeback in the final minutes … but that feeling quickly disappeared. JuJu Smith-Schuster broke off a 69-yard catch-and-run, setting up the Steelers for a game-tying field goal at the very least, but possibly a game-winning touchdown. They appeared to have scored that touchdown, but replay officials ruled that Jesse James didn’t control the football as it hit the ground while he crossed the goal line. Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger ran a fake spike, had nowhere to throw, and ended up getting intercepted in the end zone by Duron Harmon. It was an absolutely insane finish, and it left the Patriots as AFC East champions and in prime position to secure the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. There were many ups, and many downs during that emotional roller coaster. Here are four of each. FOUR UPS Rob Gronkowski Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) In his return from suspension, Gronkowski looked like a grown man playing against a bunch of youths. He caught nine passes for 168 yards, including a huge 10-yard pickup on a fourth-and-1 deep in Steelers territory. He also drew a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter when the Patriots were driving while trying to tie the game. That drive ended in a field goal … yet on the Patriots’ next drive, Gronkowski turned into an MVP. He hauled in a 26-yard gain over the middle at the two-minute warning to keep the Patriots alive, and then he caught another 26-yard pass coming out of the two-minute warning. Tom Brady went back to Gronkowski for a 17-yard pass, which Gronkowski caught near his toes, setting up an eight-yard touchdown run by Lewis. Tom Brady His night was not perfect (as you’ll see in the Downs), but leading that 77-yard touchdown drive (and completing the two-point conversion, to boot) on the road in a rowdy atmosphere with major implications on the line? That is something that most quarterbacks simply cannot do. Brady did, and he did it with a rather casual disposition. If the man ever does retire, he’ll be sorely missed in moments like this. Brady finished the day 22-for-35 for 298 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Bill Belichick Fortune favors the bold … unless a bold decision is made by a football coach and the results don’t turn out correctly. The fact that the fourth-and-2 in Indy almost a decade ago remains a common discussion point in New England adds some validity to this statement. So when Bill Belichick elected to pass up an opportunity for easy points by choosing to go for it on a fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 16-yard line while trailing by seven points on the opening drive of the second half, he was opening himself up to some criticism. But there’s a benefit to being a coach who’s essentially impermeable to criticism, and Belichick was rewarded when Brady connected with Gronkowski for a 10-yard gain. Brady completed a touchdown to Brandin Cooks three plays later. Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, Duron Harmon Malcolm Butler, Duron Harmon and Eric Rowe celebrate Harmon’s game-winning INT in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) There will be a lot of focus on Jesse James’ overturned touchdown and the Steelers’ team-wide failure at the end of the game. But the execution of a trio of Patriots defensive backs was what won the game for New England. First, Malcolm Butler did an excellent job of running with Darrius Heyward-Bey on second-and-goal from the 10. Butler tackled Heyward-Bey before the receiver could get out of bounds, thus forcing the Steelers into scramble mode. And it was on that next play — a fake spike — when the Patriots’ defense played it perfectly. Eric Rowe, defending against the fade, recognized that Eli Rogers was breaking in on a slant. Rowe burst to get in front of the receiver and expertly got his hand in the way to break up the pass. The bounce off that deflection was most fortuitous, as it went straight into the hands of Duron Harmon. The safety made the interception, hit the turf, and the Patriots had themselves an unbelievable win. BONUS: Ryan Shazier The Steelers’ best defensive player has left the football world uneasy over the past two weeks as news of his health status has not appeared to be great. But Shazier was in attendance on Sunday in Pittsburgh, providing a bit of relief that at least he is feeling and moving well enough to be at the game. BONUS: Ryan Allen The punter? Yes, the punter. Ryan Allen booted a 54-yard punt late in the third quarter, and Matthew Slater helped settle it on the 3-yard line. It led to the Steelers’ not scoring on the ensuing drive, which was a rarity on the day. BONUS: Dion Lewis It’s weird; usually the man who scores the winning touchdown gets all the publicity. But Lewis was a little overshadowed by Gronkowski. Lewis ran for 67 yards on 13 carries and picked up 13 yards on one catch, and he scored the mightily important touchdown with less than a minute left. FOUR DOWNS Third-Down Defense The Patriots’ defense simply could not get off the field. They couldn’t force turnovers. They couldn’t make stops on third down. They couldn’t make red-zone stops. They couldn’t keep the Steelers from picking up half the football field in one fell swoop with the game on the line. When you can’t do any of that, you also can’t win football games. Somehow — somehow — they were able to shake it off and execute in the final moments of the game to secure the win. But the Steelers reopened a lot of defensive wounds which were an Achilles’ heel for this team early in the year. Tom Brady’s Interception If Andy Dalton had thrown the interception that Tom Brady did in the third quarter, the entire football world would have been cackling at how bad it was. In a 17-16 game, on a third-and-2 at the New England 33-yard line, Brady threw off his back foot to nobody in particular. Vince Williams picked it off and returned it to the 22-yard line, and Le’Veon Bell ran for a touchdown a few plays later. Brady talks often about how taking care of the football is always the most important thing for any player. He failed in that regard in a huge spot. Stephon Gilmore Martavis Bryant makes a catch behind Stephon Gilmore. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Entering the game, much of the discussion in New England involved low expectations for Malcolm Butler, thus putting more pressure on Stephon Gilmore to have a big game. Gilmore didn’t deliver. Notably, Gilmore allowed a 39-yard completion to Martavis Bryant on the first play of the second quarter, a drive that led to a Pittsburgh field goal. He was also trailing in coverage when Bryant hauled in a touchdown pass to end the second quarter and give the Steelers a seven-point lead at halftime. Gilmore had lost track of Bryant to allow a 10-yard catch on a third-and-7 to keep the drive alive, too. Gilmore also made a diving attempt to nowhere, essentially jumping out of the way and allowing Le’Veon Bell to run for 18 yards on one play. It was just one game, but it was a big one. And in this one, albeit in a game where Antonio Brown left due to injury, Butler outperformed Gilmore. Rex Burkhead The running back has taken on an important role out of the Patriots’ backfield, but that’s going to be on hold for the time being. Burkhead suffered a knee injury on the opening drive of the third quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game shortly thereafter. Fortunately for Burkhead, early reports indicate that it’s not a torn ACL and he may be able to return in relatively short order. That would be a best-case scenario for Burkhead and the Patriots, as his touchdown on Sunday was his sixth in the last five games and his seventh overall on the season. BONUS: Jordan Richards The 69-yard catch-and-run by Smith-Schuster was not any one person’s fault, but the third-year safety out of Stanford had the best opportunity to simply force the receiver out of bounds after just 19 yards. But Richards wiped out and flailed toward the receiver, allowing him a free pass up the sideline. It was not a winning play. You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
|Power Outage At Atlanta Airport Creating Travel NightmareCBSlocal.com / 6 h. 9 min. ago more|
ATLANTA (CBS/AP) — A sudden power outage brought the world’s busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding more than 1,000 flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. Hours after the blackout began, authorities announced that electricity would be restored at the Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by midnight. Passengers at the airport were left in the dark when the lights went out at around 1 p.m. The outage halted all outgoing flights, and arriving planes were held on the ground at their point of departure. International flights were being diverted, officials said. According to a Georgia Power statement, a fire in an underground electrical facility may have been responsible for the outage. The cause of the fire was not known. “No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time,” the statement said. No areas outside of the airport were affected by the power loss. The utility said that there are “many redundant systems in place” to ensure the power supply to the airport and that such outages at the airport “are very rare.” Canceled flights listed at Logan Airport following a power outage in Atlanta. (WBZ-TV) By evening, power had been restored to at least one concourse. On its Twitter page Sunday night the airport tweeted, “Power on Concourse F is back ON! We are working with great urgency w/ @GeorgiaPower to restore power throughout rest of airport.” Airport workers were distributing bottled water, and Dunkin’ Donuts was giving out doughnuts. Ken Hart of Cape Cod was waiting at Logan Airport for hours hoping his daughter would be able to leave the Atlanta airport. “She said the people who were on the flight she was supposed to get on were stuck on the plane. The last I heard, that was unloaded and they were going to board. But I haven’t heard since I got here,” said Hart. David Topus, meanwhile, was hoping to leave Logan Airport. “I’ve been here since about 1:15. I’m going to wait a little longer, then I’m going to stay at a hotel nearby because I’m rescheduled out early tomorrow,” said Topus. Officer Lisa Bender of the Atlanta Police Department said officers were at the airport to help with crowd control and managing traffic around the airport. Delta Air Lines, which has its hub at the airport, said about 900 mainline and connection flights were cancelled, and 48 flights were diverted. Delta temporarily embargoed unaccompanied minors from traveling Monday. At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were cancelled, an airline spokesman said in an email. United Airlines and JetBlue Airways were among carriers reporting delays or cancellations. American Airlines reported only a handful of diversions and cancellations because the carrier does not use Atlanta as a hub, airline spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello. Hartsfield-Jackson, which serves 104 million passengers a year, is the world’s busiest airport, a distinction it has held since 1998. The airport serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website. Nearly 2,500 planes arrive and depart each day. (© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
|Vince Wilfork: Gronk Is ‘A Bad Mofo’CBSlocal.com / 7 h. 33 min. ago more|
BOSTON (CBS) – One former Patriot was certainly impressed by Rob Gronkowski’s monster game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gronkowski was critical for the Patriots in their 27-24 win, hauling in nine catches for 168 yards. He also pulled in a two-point conversation in the final minute. That elicited a simple response from the recently-retired Vince Wilfork. Gronk is a bad mofo — Vince Wilfork (@wilfork75) December 18, 2017 Thanks in part to Gronkowski’s performance, the Patriots clinched their ninth straight AFC East title. Tom Brady was impressed with the performance as well. “I’m just really proud of him. He works his (butt) off every day. I’m happy for him,” Brady said.
|Brady, Gronkowski, Harmon Author Insane Finish To Patriots’ Win Over SteelersCBSlocal.com / 7 h. 54 min. ago more|
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday afternoon’s game between the Patriots and Steelers was billed as the NFL’s game of the year. It lived up to the hype. And then some. The Patriots offense, somewhat sputtering throughout the game, came alive thanks to an explosive performance by Rob Gronkowski in the final two minutes. The Patriots defense, unable to stop the Steelers all evening, committed an atrocious breakdown to let the Steelers either tie or win. The officials overturned a would-be game-winning touchdown for the Steelers after it was bobbled. Ben Roethlisberger, nearly perfect through 59 minutes of football, made a back-breaking mistake. The Patriots capitalized and won the game. And it just might have won them the AFC. That was as wild as wild gets. The Patriots and Steelers are now 11-3 on the season, but the Patriots own the tiebreaker and will own the No. 1 seed in the AFC if they can finish out the year with two wins over the Bills and Jets. The stakes were incredibly high for this one, and the two teams delivered an absolute classic. “We just knew that it was going to be a great football atmosphere, a great game,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “And it was. It was awesome.” Nobody rose to the moment more than Gronkowski. After the Patriots took over while trailing by five points with 2:06 left to play, Brady completed a 26-yard pass over the middle to the big tight end before the two-minute warning. Coming out of that two-minute warning, Brady went back to Gronkowski for another 26 yards. On the next snap, Brady threw again to Gronkowski, who reached down to his toes to snarl his mitts around the football while falling to the turf. He secured the ball for a 17-yard gain, and the Patriots had a first-and-goal at the 8-yard line. “He just kept getting free. I thought he did a great job of separating, making the catches, giving him some chances on 1-on-1 throws,” Brady said of his all-world tight end. “I’m just really proud of him. That guy fights his ass off every day.” With three catches for 69 yards on that drive, Gronkowski upped his total to 168 yards on nine receptions. And after Dion Lewis ran into the end zone to put the Patriots up by a point, Brady lobbed a ball to the corner of the end zone for Gronkowski, who easily hauled in the pass for two points and a three-point lead. “Football is a crazy game,” Brady said. “You just keep fighting.” The game appeared to have been won — or at the very least, overtime was secured. That’s when all hell broke loose. On first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 21-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger completed a short pass over the middle to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who managed to run away from Eric Rowe, avoid Jordan Richards on the sideline, and break free for a ridiculous 69-yard catch-and-run. Patriots safety Duron Harmon was credited with the tackle to finally end the play. His name would pop up shortly thereafter. The Steelers had the ball at the New England 10-yard line with 34 seconds left, and the game-tying field goal was a mere formality. But the Steelers wanted more, and Roethlisberger threw a pass to tight end Jesse James over the middle. James twisted his body across the goal line while making the catch, and he allowed the ball to shift in his hands when it hit the turf. It was ruled a touchdown on the field, but after a lengthy review, the touchdown was taken away. The Steelers still had plenty of time and opportunity, though, to score that game-winning touchdown. Roethlisberger went back to a crossing pattern on second down, hitting Darrius Heyward-Bey over the middle. But Malcolm Butler — as sure a tackler as there is — ripped the receiver to the turf before he could get out of bounds. With the clock ticking and Pittsburgh out of timeouts, the Steelers ran a fake spike from the 7-yard line. The Patriots had it well-covered, and Roethlisberger — knowing he could not afford to take a sack — threw the ball into traffic over the middle. Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) The pass, intended for Eli Rogers, was tipped by cornerback Eric Rowe. It deflected directly to Harmon, who came up with the interception in the end zone. And just like that, the Patriots went from losing, to winning, to losing, to going to overtime, to potentially losing, to winning the football game. There may be some debate about the overturned touchdown, but there shouldn’t. Though nothing in the NFL is every officiated with 100 percent consistency, that’s a catch that all regular NFL viewers understood would not stand after review. Ben Roethlisberger walks off the field after throwing the game-losing interception to the Patriots. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) The rest of the narrative will be fascinating to follow. Brady, in an up-and-down performance, may have done enough to secure the NFL’s MVP Award. Gronkowski reestablished himself as arguably the most unstoppable force in the NFL. And whatever happens over the final two weeks of the season, the eventual rematch between these two teams in the AFC Championship Game ought to be another classic. But there’s no chance it lives up to the expectations set by Sunday’s unbelievable finish. You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
|East Boston 3-Alarm Fire: Firefighters Rescue Cat - Patch.comGoogle News / 8 h. 16 min. ago more|
CBS Boston / WBZEast Boston 3-Alarm Fire: Firefighters Rescue CatPatch.comEast Boston 3-Alarm Fire: Firefighters Rescue Cat. Thick white smoke billowed from the top of the building on the 300 block of Meridien Street. By Daniel Hampton, Patch Staff | Dec 17, 2017 7:14 pm ET | Updated Dec 17, 2017 7:20 pm ET. 0. East Boston 3 ...Fire Rips Through Roof Of East Boston HouseCBS Boston / WBZall 15 news articles »
|Patriots Clinch Ninth Straight AFC East TitleCBSlocal.com / 8 h. 21 min. ago more|
BOSTON (CBS) — For the 15th time in 17 years, the Patriots are champions of the AFC East. This year, it took a little extra time for the Patriots. But it was worth the wait, as they were able to celebrate their “Hat & T-Shirt Game” in enemy territory after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Pittsburgh threw an interception in the end zone with five seconds left, allowing the Patriots to seal a 27-24. The Patriots had the chance to win the division last weekend with either a win of their own or a loss by the Bills, but neither happened. The Bills also won on Sunday afternoon against Miami, thus keeping Buffalo’s slim chances of wining the division alive. But that life lasted just a few extra hours, because the Patriots squeaked out their game in Pittsburgh. The Patriots earn this year’s division title after a rocky start to the season. They lost at home on opening night, 42-27, to the Kansas City Chiefs. Three weeks later, they lost at home again, this time to the Carolina Panthers, to fall to 2-2 on the season while ranking last in total defense. But, incrementally, the Patriots improved. They won on the road on a Thursday night in Week 5 in Tampa Bay, beat the Jets in New Jersey, and then hit their bye week at full speed with back-to-back home wins over the Falcons and Chargers. They faced what was deemed a grueling road schedule coming out of their bye, with a trip to Denver and a trip to Mexico City to face the Raiders. But they won the two games by a combined score of 74-24. The Patriots then beat the Dolphins at home and traveled to Buffalo to beat the Bills, two victories which extended the win streak to eight and further prevented the divisional opponents from staying alive in the AFC East race. They stumbled on Monday night in Miami, but bounced back with a win in Pittsburgh. The division crown is the Patriots’ ninth straight. Since 2000, when Bill Belichick took over as head coach, the Patriots have won the division 15 out of 18 seasons. They missed out in 2000, 2002, and 2008.
|Boston Parents Voice Opposition To Plan For Earlier School Start TimeCBSlocal.com / 8 h. 36 min. ago more|
BOSTON (CBS) – Parents and their children lined the streets of West Roxbury Sunday, but they weren’t waiting for Santa. Dozens of angry Boston Public School parents crashed a tree lighting held by Mayor Marty Walsh, protesting the district’s new start time policy. “This needs to stop. They need to rethink this entire process,” said parent Margarita Barrios Ponce. Parents express displeasure with proposed new school start times as Marty Walsh attends an event. (WBZ-TV) Last week, the school committee announced that some elementary school students will start two hours earlier, at 7:15 a.m. Superintendent Tommy Chang said at the meeting, “Our goal here was to make the most equitable decisions for the entire school system.” “It’s very complicated to move a district of 128 schools without affecting something. So, no matter what move is made it’s going to affect someone else,” said Walsh on Sunday. Barrios Ponce, of Jamaica Plain, isn’t happy, and said the changes will disrupt her family’s routine at night. “Some of these schedules are absolutely impossible. They require children to getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning,” she said. Marty Walsh speaks to upset parents at a tree lighting event. (WBZ-TV) At least one Boston city councilor is joining the chorus of parents who want to hit pause on the plan. “I worry about families, single income families that may not be able to afford after school programs,” said Councilor Matt O’Malley. The parents are calling on Walsh and the school committee to gather more public input before the new start times are implemented. “Bottom line is we have to work with the parents to solve this,” said Walsh. Despite the backlash, school officials plan to move forward with the earlier school start times. A series of public meetings are scheduled for next week to inform parents about the changes.
|Police Searching For Man With Shotgun In Spencer Woods Following Dispute - CBS Boston / WBZGoogle News / 9 h. 1 min. ago more|
CBS Boston / WBZPolice Searching For Man With Shotgun In Spencer Woods Following DisputeCBS Boston / WBZSPENCER (CBS) – Massachusetts State Police helped search for a potentially armed man in the woods of Spencer on Sunday night. State Police said the man left a home following a dispute, and walked into the woods with a shotgun. The man is believed to be ...Mass. State Police call off active search for man in SpencerBoston News, Weather, Sports | WHDH 7Newsall 10 news articles »
|Snow, Freezing Rain Making For Messy Monday | Boston, MA Patch - Patch.comGoogle News / 9 h. 42 min. ago more|
Patch.comSnow, Freezing Rain Making For Messy Monday | Boston, MA PatchPatch.comBoston, MA - Make time tomorrow morning when you head to work.and more »
|Man arrested in nonfatal shooting in BrightonBoston News / 9 h. 46 min. ago more|
A 33-year-old man wanted in connection with a nonfatal shooting in Brighton was arrested early Sunday morning, Boston police said . Clayton Watts, of Brighton, allegedly shot a 28-year-old man in the area of 45 Faneuil St. at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police said in a press release.
|Police Searching For Man With Shotgun In Spencer Woods Following DisputeCBSlocal.com / 9 h. 54 min. ago more|
SPENCER (CBS) – Massachusetts State Police helped search for a potentially armed man in the woods of Spencer on Sunday night. State Police said the man left a home following a dispute, and walked into the woods with a shotgun. The man is believed to be dressed in camouflage clothing. By 5 p.m. on Sunday, troopers were searching on the air and ground along with Spencer Police in the area of Paxton Road, Debbie Drive and McCormick Road. Spencer Police said the man may be in violation of a restraining order. Police called off the air search later in the evening and the man has not yet been located. No further information is currently available.
|Celebrating 70 Years Of WBZ-TV, Behind The New PromoCBSlocal.com / 10 h. 11 min. ago more|
By Sean Barnacoat, WBZ-TV Promotions Director BOSTON (CBS) – Normally, December is a good time to look back and reflect on the events of the past year. But this year, as WBZ prepares for a major milestone, we wanted to look back on the events of the past 70 years. 2018 will mark WBZ-TV’s 70th anniversary. WBZ-TV was New England’s first television station. We first signed on the air on June 9, 1948. Over the next six months, we will be celebrating this milestone with more than a few walks down memory lane. To kick things off, we wanted to highlight some of the most memorable people, places, events, and moments from the 70 years of Boston news that WBZ has been privileged to document. Obviously, it is impossible to capture 70 years of history in a single 60-second ad. So the video above is just a start. Stay tuned to us on TV, Facebook, Twitter, and here on CBSBoston.com over the next few months, as we revisit some of the most memorable, and most important, moments of the last 70 years in Boston. Now let’s break down that promo, shot by shot. THE FIRST 10 SECONDS The black-and-white footage at the beginning of the promo is from WBZ’s earliest days on the air, in the late 1940s and 1950s. You will recognize Red Sox great Ted Williams and footage of Fenway Park. WBZ was the first station to broadcast Red Sox games to New Englanders, pioneering television sports coverage in the region. WBZ carried Red Sox games from 1948 through 1957, with Curt Gowdy (“the voice of baseball in Boston”) behind the mic. At :04 you see a clip of then-Senator John F. Kennedy from a rally he held in the old Boston Garden during his 1960 presidential campaign. At :05 you see residents protesting urban renewal, which displaced many people from their homes. In 1956, WBZ released a groundbreaking documentary about urban decay. “City in a Shadow” shocked Bostonians and revealed the substandard state of housing in the city. After all the years, the issue of housing and affordability is still front and center in Boston. At :06 there is a clip of longtime Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler with WBZ anchor Arch McDonald. McDonald was WBZ’s first news anchor, signing on the air in 1948. He did a series of “First Person Profiles” that took New Englanders into the homes of notable Bostonians. That is followed by a brief clip of Senator Ted Kennedy from the campaign trail, and an image of Concord, NH schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe training for the space shuttle Challenger mission. At :07 you see the Dover station and the old elevated MBTA Orange Line, which closed in 1987. At :08 there is a shot of a Boston Marathon finish from the 1970s. The man toasting a glass at :09 is from inside famed Back Bay bar Daisy Buchanan’s. It was taken on the first night of the Blizzard of ‘78. Boston workers were stuck in the city and could not commute home, so they raised a glass and drank the night away. The next shot at :09 is Bernard Law, from his elevation to Cardinal in 1985. WBZ traveled to the Vatican to cover the ceremony. 10 SECONDS TO 20 SECONDS The guitarists in Copley Square were people busking during the aftermath of the Blizzard of ’78. Streets were still mostly impassable, but people in the city began to wander out. The protest shot at :10 was from 1979. Marchers in Roxbury were protesting racial inequality in the city, during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Boston. At :11 you see Governor Michael Dukakis in the red sweater that he made famous in TV appearances during the Blizzard of ‘78. That is followed by footage from the hard-hit South and North Shores. The dancing bartender was also from inside Daisy Buchanan’s during the storm. (Anybody know him?) At :15 there is a clip from a Bruins game at the Boston Garden in 1983. We think it perfectly captures the passion and spirit of Boston sports fans. :16 brings you Stoneham native Nancy Kerrigan skating on the ice at a local rink. This footage was taken before the 1994 Olympic Games, which were marred by the attack on her knee. Also at :16, Governor Bill Weld dives headfirst into the Charles River to prove it was safe for swimming. Known for our “dirty water” for decades, the governor wanted to make a loud statement that things had changed. :17 in, you see Governor Bill Weld and Senator John Kerry meeting for a beer at McGann’s Pub in downtown Boston. After their spirited and hard-fought senate race in 1996, this was a memorable show of unity and camaraderie, and a show of bipartisanship that so often seems to be missing from our politics today. Also at :17 is an image of gay and lesbian advocates who fought for years to march in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That is followed by Governor Deval Patrick, who became the commonwealth’s first African American elected governor, in 2006. 20 SECONDS TO 30 SECONDS 21 seconds into the video you see a shot of jubilant Red Sox fans. They are welcoming home the champs after the 2004 World Series victory. At :22 is a clip of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon early in their career. This shot was taken from an interview they did with longtime Arts reporter Joyce Kulhawik. The shot of the MBTA conductor at :22 is from the final train to ever run on the MBTA’s elevated orange line in 1987. That is followed at :23 by a clip of Meb Keflezighi in 2014, becoming the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983. We had to include that shot of Jack Williams and Liz Walker at :26, WBZ’s iconic and beloved anchor team of the 1980s and 1990s. That leads into images of WBZ’s anchor teams today. 30 SECONDS TO 40 SECONDS That voice you hear AT :32 saying “You’re looking at our fair city of Boston,” is legendary WBZ morning anchorman Jack Chase. He hosted WBZ’s morning news from the 1950s until the early 1980s. At :35, that of course is Celtics legend Larry Bird. The image is from WBZ’s “Banner Years” special in 1995, in which the city officially retired the old Boston Garden. At :36, yes, that’s Shelby Scott covering the Tall Ships visit to Boston in 1980. We still get inquiries about Shelby’s whereabouts every time it snows. Next up, at :37, is Pete Frates performing the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park. In an 8-week period in the summer of 2014, Frates helped inspire $115 Million in donations to fight ALS. At :38 you see footage from some of the very first legal same-sex marriages, after the Massachusetts SJC’s landmark ruling in 2004. The ruling paved the way for marriage equality nationwide. Tom Brady holds up his Wheaties box at :39, after the Patriots’ improbable Super Bowl win in 2002. 40 SECONDS TO 50 SECONDS Brady is followed by Big Papi, David Ortiz, hoisting the World Series trophy inside the Red Sox locker room in 2004. Of course we had to include a shot of Pedro Martinez celebrating! At :43 Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo triumphantly make their way onto the field at Fenway Park. At :44 you see an image from Boston’s Women’s March in January 2017. City officials estimated that 175,000 people joined the demonstration, held the day after President Donald Trump took office. We switch gears to celebration, with a shot from the Rolling Duck Boat Rally celebrating the Patriots third Super Bowl win, in 2005. At :47 is an image of Patriots fans in the old Foxboro stadium ahead of Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. New England countered the “Cheese Heads” of Green Bay with our own “Chowdah Hedz” hats. At :48 you see Mayor Menino offering his long-sought endorsement to Elizabeth Warren in her run for senate in 2012. Also at :48, Governor Mitt Romney takes down the “Reverse Curve” sign that every Boston driver will remember along Storrow Drive. Red Sox fans had changed the sign to read “Reverse the Curse”. You’ll notice that just after the 2004 World Series victory, someone added a “d” to the word “Reverse.” 50 SECONDS TO 60 SECONDS We wanted to end the promo with an image of our news team today: all of our news anchors, weather team, sports team, and specialist reporters. The faces have changed over the years, but WBZ-TV’s mission has always stayed the same. We’re still here for you, as we have been for 70 years, to help inform, understand, share your stories, and celebrate everything Boston. We look forward to celebrating this milestone together with you over the next six months. Remember to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook if you don’t want to miss any of our reminiscing.
|After fire, community helps Jamie's Pub employees - Wicked LocalGoogle News / 10 h. 28 min. ago more|
Wicked LocalAfter fire, community helps Jamie's Pub employeesWicked LocalThe remnants of Jamie's Pub and Gannet Grill in North Scituate which is waiting to be torn down on Wednesday November 8, 2017. Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger. By Mary Whitfill The Patriot Ledger. thelittlewreck. Sunday. Posted at 4:14 PM Updated at 4:21 ...and more »
|Woman Hit By Stray Bullets Inside Her Home, Police Search For SuspectCBSlocal.com / 11 h. 10 min. ago more|
ROXBURY (CBS) — No arrests have been made in connection with a shooting that left a Roxbury mother and wife injured on Saturday night. Kami Hamlet was in the family room of her Dudley Street home when she was hit in the face and neck by stray bullets, her husband told WBZ-TV. Kami Hamlet, Roxbury shooting victim (Family Photo) Bullet holes are strewed across the front of their house. “Really? What is this world coming to? You can’t even sit in your own window anymore. I’m sorry I moved around here,” said neighbor Robin Martinez. Multiple bullet holes could be seen in the windows of a Roxbury home where a woman was shot. (WBZ-TV) “I don’t know I was sitting in my computer and my husband was sleeping and all of the sudden we hear ‘bam bam bam bam bam’ and then the police were just all over the street and I saw an ambulance take a lady out of here,” she recalled. “I’m scared i didn’t sleep at all last night.” Hamlet’s husband said she is awake and talking on Sunday, but likely still in shock. Martinez described her as “a really loving, generous, caring person.” “Before Thanksgiving she came to my house and offered me a turkey knowing I don’t have nothing,” said Martinez. “She is such a sweet, sweet lady. Why, why her?”
|Jerry Richardson Selling Carolina Panthers NFL Franchise, Amid Misconduct InvestigationCBSlocal.com / 11 h. 25 min. ago more|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Facing a growing investigation that accuses him of sexual misconduct and using racist language at work, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday that he will sell the NFL team after the season. The team announced on Twitter that Richardson is selling the team, linking to a five-paragraph letter by the franchise’s only owner. “I believe it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” Richardson wrote, saying he wouldn’t begin discussions until after the season. The Panthers, who lost in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, are in playoff position again. “I hope everyone in the organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl,” said Richardson, 81. Richardson’s letter did not directly address the investigation or allegations against him. The NFL awarded Richardson, a former player with the Baltimore Colts, an expansion franchise in 1993, and he has been the team’s only owner. “There has been no greater mission or purpose in my life than to have brought and NFL franchise to Charlotte,” Richardson wrote. “The obstacles back then were significant and some even questioned whether or community could or would support professional football. But I always knew that if given the chance the Carolina would rise to the occasion. And you have.” Richardson attended Sunday’s win over the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium and was photographed sitting beside his wife Rosalind in his luxury box. He did not speak to reporters. The NFL had no comment on the upcoming sale of the Panthers. “While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan,” Richardson’s letter said. The Panthers are tied to Charlotte through June of 2019. The city of Charlotte and the Panthers reached agreement on improvements for the team’s stadium in 2013. The plan called for the city to contribute about $87 million for renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year hard tether to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. The money is less than what the team was seeking for improvements of the stadium, which opened in 1996. Forbes estimates the Panthers worth at $2.3 billion. The Buffalo Bills sold in 2014 for $1.4 billion following the death of owner Ralph Wilson. Richardson and his ownership group paid $206 million in 1993 for an expansion team. Richardson’s announcement comes after a Sports Illustrated report Sunday that cited unnamed sources who said Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details. The NFL on Sunday said it has taken over the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct. Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Sunday the team requested the league take over the investigation for “transparency reasons.” The Panthers began play in 1995 but have never delivered on Richardson’s promise of winning a Super Bowl. They lost after the 2003 and 2015 seasons. Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney said he had never seen any evidence of Richardson displaying any sexual or racial misconduct in the workplace. “If this (sale) happens I think it is a significant loss for the NFL,” Hurney told The Associated Press. “I have the utmost respect for him as an owner. Our employees have the utmost respect for him. I came back because of the respect I have for him and for the organization he started and developed.” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said after Sunday’s win over Green Bay that Richardson has served as a father figure to him since his arrival in Carolina seven years ago. “For me I hope things don’t alter my thinking of Mr. Richardson,” Newton said. “But I do know that he has given me some things that I will forever be appreciative of.” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after the game it is important to let the process play out. “The only thing I can speak on is for what he has been to me as far as I’m concerned,” Rivera said. “A lot of you know I had a house fire, and he was there for (my wife) Stephanie and I. He was tremendous in supporting us. My brother passed, and Mr. Richardson was there and helped me get to the funeral and back. I can’t speak to anything other than that.” Richardson was hospitalized 2008, one month after receiving a pacemaker for heart problems. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2002 and was placed on a donor waiting list for a new heart. He received the new heart on Feb. 1, 2009, and has not had any known setbacks since. It has been a wild year for the Panthers organization. Team president Danny Morrison abruptly resigned in February. Richardson then fired general manager Dave Gettleman on the eve of training camp and replaced him with Hurney on an interim basis. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
|Patriots-Steelers Live Blog: Pats Win 27-24 After End-Zone Intercpetion By HarmonCBSlocal.com / 11 h. 32 min. ago more|
By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston Final, 27-24 Patriots: The Patriots win. Oh my goodness. That was insane. The drive started with an absolutely disastrous defensive performance from the Patriots. Absolutely disastrous. Roethlisberger completed a short pass over the middle to Smith-Schuster, and no Patriot even came close to tackling him. Jordan Richards came close, sort of, but didn’t get a hand on him, and he scampered for 69 yards. The Steelers were in field-goal range with 34 seconds left. They threw to Jesse James over the middle on first down, and he made the catch while twisting into the end zone. He bobbled the football a bit as it hit the ground, which led to a lengthy review. After that review, the officials rightly ruled that it was an incompletion. This game is crazy. On second-and-goal from the 10-yard line, Darrius Heyward-Bey made a catch and was tackled in bounds by Malcolm Butler. HUGE PLAY. Instead of spiking the ball, the Steelers went with a fake spike, it was well-covered, Roehtlisberger threw to a mess of people, Rowe tipped it and Harmon intercepted it to win the game. Football is insane. Fourth quarter, :56, 27-24 Patriots: Rob. Gronkowski. The man was a monster on that drive. He picked up 26 yards before the two-minute warning, picked up another 26 yards on the play out of the two-minute warning, then picked up 17 yards on the next play. Three catches for 69 yards. Dion Lewis plunged in from the 8-yard line, and Brady completed the two-point conversion to (who else?) Gronkowski. Unbelievable performance from Gronkowski. Fourth quarter, 1:55, 24-19 Steelers: Brady nearly was picked off after a pass was deflected at the line, but Sean Davis whiffed on an easy pick. On the next snap, the final one before the two-minute warning, Brady carefully stepped up in the pocket and delivered a rocket to Gronkowski over the middle for a gain of 26 yards. The Patriots have 51 yards to go if they want to win this game. Fourth quarter, 2:06, 24-19 Steelers: The Patriots got their stop. Roethlisberger escaped an Eric Lee sack on second down to rush for five yards, bringing up a third-and-4. He completed a pass to Smith-Schuster over the middle, but Harmon and Rowe clobbered him well shy of the sticks. Amendola caught a punt inside the 10 and returned it out to the 22-yard line. Here we go. Fourth quarter, 3:56, 24-19 Steelers: The Patriots appeared to be in business, after Gronkowski drew a 22-yard pass interference penalty that put New England within striking distance of the end zone. But Brady overthrew Amendola, who had a step on his man while streaking toward the end zone, on first down. Burns broke up a pass to Cooks on second down, and Brady got enveloped by the entire defensive line for a third-down sack. Gostkowksi hit his 45-yard field goal, cutting the Steelers’ lead to five points. But the New England defense needs a stop — and fast. They’ve been unable to do that all night long. Fourth quarter, 7:38, 24-16 Steelers: The Steelers converted another pair of third downs, but ended up in a third-and-21 and had to punt. So that’s … a good step for the Patriots’ defense? I guess. Technically. Patriots take over at their own 28-yard line, needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie. There’s technically enough time left in the game for the Patriots to score twice, but considering the Steelers only have seven-minute drives, it feels like the Patriots might have to make this drive count. End of third quarter, 24-16 Steelers:Rob Gronkowski came up with yet another huge play, this one a 17-yard catch-and-run over the middle. But Develin dropped a pass off his hands on second down, and Brady threw incomplete while getting leveled by Tuitt on third down. On the plus side, Ryan Allen demolished his punt, and it was downed on the 3-yard line. That’s a 54-yard punt. Massive. The Steelers ran one play before the end of the quarter, though, and Bell ran for eight yards through the left side. Likewise, massive. It’ll be second-and-2 when the fourth quarter begins. Third quarter, 1:33, 24-16 Steelers: The Steelers make that turnover count, with Le’Veon Bell crossing the goal line for a Pittsburgh touchdown. They got that opportunity after Xavier Grimble crept out of a play-action snap for an 8-yard reception on third-and-1. Two plays later, Bell plunged in from the 3-yard line, and the lead is now eight. Third quarter, 4:31, 17-16 Steelers: There’s the turnover. Tom Brady with an ill-advised back foot pass to nobody, over the middle, and the Steelers are in business in Patriots territory. It came on a third-and-2. Vince Williams made the easy pick and returned it to the New England 22-yard line. Third quarter, 6:39, 17-16 Steelers: Stop the presses. The Patriots have come up with a third-down stop. On third-and-10, Roethlisberger threw over the middle to Bell, who dropped it. Jordan Richards was there anyway to make the tackle well short of the sticks if Bell had hauled it in. After the punt, Patriots take over at their own 10. Bell was running wild to start that drive, picking up chunks of 18 yards and then 15 yards on consecutive plays to start that drive. So at the very least, the Steelers flipped the field and have forced the Patriots to go 90 yards if they want to get into the end zone. One important matter: Tony Romo said it, and it’s true. One turnover may lose this game. Patriots have to be especially careful so deep in their own territory. Third quarter, 8:50, 17-16 Steelers: The Patriots’ drive ends with Brady taking an extra second to let Cooks find an inch in the end zone. Brady threw a bullet while running toward the end zone and connected for a touchdown. It would have been a tying score … but Ryan Allen mishandled the snap, and Gostkowski missed his kick wide left. Ouch. In any event, there will be many more points scored in this game — though not if the teams keep exchanging these extremely long drives. Brady is up to 16-for-20 for 190 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski was huge on that drive, making a 22-yard catch early, and then making the 10-yard gain on fourth-and-1. He did drop a pass that would have been a touchdown, but Cooks made up for it on the next play. Rex Burkhead update: He is OUT with a knee injury. Third quarter, 9:23, 17-10 Steelers: The Patritos came up short in the red zone again, but Bill bBelichick decided to roll the dice and go for it on fourth-and-1. Gronkowski ran a quick slant in man coverage and hauled in 10-yard gain over the middle to set up a first-and-goal. Huge moment. However, on the next play, Rex Burkhead remained down on the field, injured after a two-yard gain. He’s been a huge member of the offense, so that’s some fairly large news. It’ll be second-and-goal from the 4-yard line after the injury timeout. Third quarter, 15:00, 17-10 Steelers: Antonio Brown’s night is officially done. He’s heading to the hospital to have his leg examined further. That’s obviously a huge factor in this game, but potentially beyond. Brown has been the MVP of the Steelers and arguably of the whole league, so if he’s injured seriously, the Steelers’ season outlook changes drastically. INJURY UPDATE: #Steelers WR Antonio Brown will be taken to the hospital for further evaluation of his calf injury. He will not return to tonight’s game. — Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) December 17, 2017 Second half is underway. Patriots start at their own 25. Halftime, 17-10 Steelers: The Steelers will be heading into the locker room with momentum on their side, after their fourth third-down conversion ends with a 4-yard touchdown pass off the back foot from Roethlisberger to Bryant. Gilmore was in coverage but couldn’t make a play. The Patriots’ defense just couldn’t get off the field on that drive. On a third-and-3, Roethlisberger threw to Smith-Schuster for six yards (Eric Rowe was in coverage). On a third-and-2, Roethlisberger threw to Bell for 13 yards. On a third-and-7, Bryant got away from Gilmore for a 10-yard gain. And on third-and-goal from the 4, the Steelers scored the TD. The drive chewed up 8:39, and it sends the Steelers to halftime with a seven-point lead. The Steelers are 7-for-9 on third downs. That’s the story of the game thus far. Mike Tomlin said the Steelers don’t expect Brown to return to the game today, which clearly changes things for the second half. But Bryant has been more than enough for Pittsburgh, with 53 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Bell also has 44 receiving yards on four catches. Second quarter, 9:07, 10-10: The Patriots’ red zone execution remains a problem, as Brady threw consecutive incompletions on second and third down once the Patriots got inside the 20-yard line. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 32-yard field goal, and the game is tied. The Patriots got there thanks to a 31-yard completion up the right seam by Rob Gronkowski. He is bigger than most other men. Amendola also had an 11-yard reception to start the drive and then a 12-yard reception on a third down to move the chains. Kenny Britt also picked up his first reception as a Patriot, a seven-yard gain on a comeback route up the right sideline. Second quarter, 12:15, 10-7 Steelers: The Steelers have taken the lead, but they are in some trouble. Antonio Brown is hurt. He took an inadvertent Eric Rowe kick to the left leg and had to be helped off the field after an end-zone collision. We’ll obviously keep an eye on this, but Brown was taken to the locker room after being evaluated in the tent. Not looking good for him at the moment. Trey Flowers came up with a sack on the next play (a third-and-18), which forced Pittsburgh into a 51-yard field goal attempt. Chris Boswell, who’s hotter than hot, drilled it. The Steelers lead 10-7. The big play of that drive involved Martavis Bryant beating Gilmore up the right sideline for 39 yards on a third-and-8 near midfield. Also of note: Roethlisberger was clutching at his left hamstring after taking a hit (I believe from Flowers), which might limit him — especially in this rain. First quarter, 2:12, 7-7: Dion Lewis picked up a nine-yard gain to move the chains, but the drive didn’t go anywhere from there, thanks to a Cam Heyward sack on first-and-10 for a loss of eight. Brady connected to White for 4-yard gain on the next play, and White came up limping. Brady went to Burkhead on third down for gain of five, but on third-and-14 it was well short. The defense seemed to confuse Brady there. He held the ball in the pocket for a long time on both the Heyward sack and the 4-yard short pass to White, so whatever it was the Steelers did in the defensive backfield, it worked to make Brady a bit hesitant. He’s still 6-for-6 for 71 yards, but the three completions for 11 yards on that drive weren’t exactly impactful. Steelers take over at their own 24-yard line. First quarter, 5:32, 7-7: The Steelers have tied it up. The Patriots needed to make a stop on a third-and-10 at their 31-yard line, but JuJu Smith-Schuster found space on a crossing route, sneaking in front of the linebackers and emerging in the open field with some space to run. Roethlisberger got him the ball and Smith-Schuster picked up 13 yards. On the next play, the Steelers ran some impressive play-action to spring Eli Rogers free up the seam past Eric Rowe for an 18-yard touchdown reception. Earlier on the drive on a third-and-4, Roethlisberger had too much time in the pocket, allowing Antonio Brown to gain separation over the middle from Malcolm Butler, for a gain of 19. The rain is starting to come down heavily. Roethlisberger is 6-for-9 for 85 yards and a TD. First quarter, 9:00, 7-0 Patriots: Tom Brady looks sharp. He lofted a beautiful deep ball to Brandin Cooks on a corner route for a 43-yard pickup to get the Patriots inside the Pittsburgh 10-yard line. Dion Lewis ran for six yards (with a nasty spin move) to get the ball to the 1-yard line, and Burkhead did the honors from there, following a Gronkowski block and falling over the goal line. Pats are up early. Brady is 3-for-3 for 60 yards. Lewis has 11 yards on two carries, and a 13-yard reception. First period, 12:11, 0-0: Le’Veon Bell picked up a big gain on the first play from scrimmage — a 17-yard catch-and-run on which David Harris couldn’t handle the talented back in the open field. But the Steelers couldn’t get much more than that. DeCastro took a holding penalty that pushed Pittsburgh into a second-and-15, and Bell stumbled through a hole to force a third-and-7. Roethlisberger went deep to Jesse James, but Patrick Chung was in coverage step for step and made a leaping swat at the football as it was coming down. Pittsburgh punted out of bounds, so Brady and the offense will take over at their own 23-yard line. First quarter, 14:53, 0-0: Stephen Gostkowski’s kick was returned out to the 13-yard line, and this one is underway. 4:10 p.m.: Here’s a picture of Tom Brady urging the Pittsburgh fans to boo him louder: Tom Brady acknowledges the crowd at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) 3:46 p.m.: Tom Brady lost on Monday night. Tom Brady doesn’t like to lose. And so the quarterback is in a special sort of place as he enters this game. He was posting poems on Instagram earlier in the week, and now he’s asking the fans in Pittsburgh to boo him louder. Tom Brady was booed as he ran toward midfield for pregame warmups, so he waved back at the crowd to tell them to get louder. — Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) December 17, 2017 Here’s a look at Tom as he walked the field in Pittsburgh earlier today: Tom Brady (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) And here’s Tom and Brian Hoyer walking out to the field for warmups: Tom Brady (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) 3:40 p.m.: The Kenny Britt era is officially upon us. That’s a slight overstatement, because the Patriots’ newest receiver must only know about a handful of plays. But in any event, he’s active today, because Chris Hogan is not. So you’ll likely catch at least a glimpse of the talented wideout making his Patriots debut today. Also of note, David Harris is active, and Mike Gillislee is not. For Pittsburgh, cornerback Joe Haden is out, which is fairly significant. Here are the inactives for both teams: PATRIOTS RB Mike Gillislee DT Alan Branch LB Kyle Van Noy WR Chris Hogan S Brandon King OL Cole Croston DL Geneo Grissom STEELERS QB Joshua Dobbs WR Justin Hunter CB Joe Haden S J.J. Wilcox T Matt Feiler TE Vance McDonald DT Daniel McCullers 9 a.m.: OK, it’s only the regular season, but as far as regular-season Sundays go, this one is pretty special. The 10-3 Patriots are in Pittsburgh to take on the 11-2 Steelers. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The loser will very likely have to travel to the other team’s house in January for the AFC Championship Game. The stakes are pretty high. It promises to be an excellent game, and if you haven’t quite gotten enough of the hype yet, here are some links to hold you over this morning: Tom Brady Posts Inspirational Poem On Instagram, And The Steelers Are In Big Trouble Tom Brady Owns The Steelers: What To Watch For In Patriots’ Regular-Season Super Bowl Breaking Down Key Weapons For Patriots-Steelers Showdown For AFC Supremacy Rob Gronkowski Learned From His Mistake, But Doesn’t Discuss Tre’Davious White Hit Any Further We’ll have updates right here from pregame through the final whistle, so check back early and often as the Pats and Steelers battle it out for AFC supremacy! You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.
|Bostona s Fenway Center development is finally breaking groundBoston News / 14 h. 16 min. ago more|
Massachusetts-based developer John Rosenthal's new $240 million project is getting underway after 15 years of attempted starts. Known as Fenway Center, Rosenthal's mixed-use development will start with the construction of two resi buildings beside Fenway Park, which are due to break ground by the end of the year.
|Here's the 100-foot-long joint rolled at a Massachusetts marijuana expo - Boston.comGoogle News / 14 h. 30 min. ago more|
Boston.comHere's the 100-foot-long joint rolled at a Massachusetts marijuana expoBoston.comWORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts marijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long (30.48-meter) joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and ...Marijuana Advocates Build 100-Foot-Long Joint In WorcesterCBS Boston / WBZall 28 news articles »
|Medinah couple married 71 years die within minutes of each otherBoston News / 18 h. 57 min. ago more|
Married for 71 years, Ruth and Bob Kretschmer died Friday at their Medinah home within 15 minutes of each other. No phrase better describes longtime Medinah residents Bob and Ruth Kretschmer, who died within minutes of each other Friday, five days after they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.
|Cops get early start on buyback effort, recover two handguns in Dorchester incidentsBoston News / 23 h. 34 min. ago more|
Hours before Boston cops hosted a one-day gun buyback program, police recovered a pair of handguns in two separate incidents in Dorchester. Gang cops working an ongoing investigation Friday afternoon pulled over a car near Mount Vernon Street and Harbor Point Boulevard, police said in a statement.
|Horford, Rozier spark late run to lead Celtics past GrizzliesBig News Network.com / 1 d. 2 h. 39 min. ago more|
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A great first quarter and a solid burst to start the fourth kept the Boston Celtics from back-to-back embarrassments, coming away with a 102-93 victory over the struggling, but still
|Irving, Tatum carry Celtics past GrizzliesBig News Network.com / 1 d. 3 h. 57 min. ago more|
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A great first quarter and a solid burst to start the fourth kept the Boston Celtics from back-to-back embarrassments, coming away with a 102-93 victory over the struggling, but still
|Massachusetts Police Departments Hold Gun Buyback Events - CBS Boston / WBZGoogle News / 1 d. 4 h. 1 min. ago more|
CBS Boston / WBZMassachusetts Police Departments Hold Gun Buyback EventsCBS Boston / WBZWORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Police departments across central Massachusetts and in Boston held gun buyback programs on Saturday. People who brought unwanted weapons to the 16th annual Goods for Guns program Saturday were eligible for a $25 gift card if ...Hartford Articles, Photos, and Videos - Hartford CourantHartford Courantall 53 news articles »
|Dorchester pair arrested for shootingBoston News / 1 d. 4 h. 6 min. ago more|
A man and a woman from Dorchester are facing charges in connection with a non-fatal shooting in late November, Boston police announced Saturday. Dwayne Flornory, 26, and Tanesha Jacobs, 37, were arrested after police executed a search warrant in the area of 18 Argyle St. at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Boston Police said in a press release.
|Zuccarello lifts Rangers past Bruins in OTBig News Network.com / 1 d. 7 h. 21 min. ago more|
BOSTON -- Mats Zuccarello scored a power-play goal 1:56 into overtime, giving the New York Rangers a 3-2 decision over Boston for their seventh straight victory over the Bruins on Saturday. The Bruin
|SpeakEasy Stage Presents Shakespeare in LoveBoston News / 1 d. 8 h. 44 min. ago more|
From January 12 to February 10, 2018, SpeakEasy Stage Company will present the New England premiere of the hit London comedy SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. Based on the Academy Award-winning film, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE tells the story of young Will Shakespeare, who is suffering a severe case of writer's block as the deadline fast approaches to deliver his new play, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter.
|Gelzinis: Lena Bruce killer sentenced to life - " at lastBoston News / 1 d. 13 h. 16 min. ago more|
Barbra Eden, former roommate of Bruce, gives a victim impact statement at the James Witkowski sentencing hearing for the 1992 murder of Lena Bruce. The hearing was held at Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
|$10m reward for stolen Gardner museum artwork set to expireBoston News / 1 d. 17 h. 51 min. ago more|
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum doubled its reward to $10 million in May for information leading to the safe recovery of its priceless artwork but set a hard deadline: Anyone seeking to collect the windfall had to come forward by the end of this year. Now, with the deadline looming, museum officials are hoping someone comes forward before the reward reverts back to $5 million on Jan. 1. "This is a check that the museum will be delighted to write," Kathy Sharpless, a spokeswoman for the Gardner museum, said Friday.
|Salaries will soar under panel's recommendationBoston News / 1 d. 22 h. 43 min. ago more|
REASONING: John Tobin, head of the Municipal Compensation Advisory Board, says, 'If Boston is going to be competitive, we have to be competitive in terms of salaries.' Mayor Martin J. Walsh's annual pay could eclipse $200,000 and City Hall department heads could take home nearly that amount under a sweeping salary boost an advisory board - handpicked by the mayor - is mulling just six weeks after the election.
|Boston to buy back guns in effort to reduce firearms on streetsBoston News / 2 d. 1 h. 15 min. ago more|
Boston police will offer $100 gift cards to buy back firearms - no questions asked - at eight sites around town today in a joint effort with other New England cities and local hospitals to reduce gun deaths. "Many people's thoughts and prayers are with people after a tragedy, but that's not enough, we need more action," Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a press conference yesterday.
|Jazz lose two players but beat CelticsBig News Network.com / 2 d. 4 h. 39 min. ago more|
BOSTON -- With two starters lost to injury in the first half and playing one of the NBA's best teams, there was every reason to believe the Utah Jazz would suffer their 10th straight TD Garden loss on
|NBA roundup: Outmanned Jazz jolt CelticsBig News Network.com / 2 d. 5 h. 4 min. ago more|
BOSTON -- The Utah Jazz lost two starters to injury in the first half but ended a four-game losing streak by stunning the Boston Celtics 107-95 on Friday night. The win ended a nine-game TD Garden lo
|Jazz lose two players, but beat CelticsBig News Network.com / 2 d. 5 h. 26 min. ago more|
BOSTON -- The Utah Jazz lost two starters to injury in the first half but then ended a four-game losing streak by stunning the Boston Celtics 107-95 on Friday night. The win ended a nine-game TD Gard
|Bulgari may make Newbury Street even more luxuriousBoston News / 2 d. 6 h. 19 min. ago more|
It would be the first Boston address for the brand, and the 2,864-square-foot boutique promises to bring a bit of Italian glitz to the block. "For over 130 years, the brand has been anchored in the 'dolce vita' - it gives us a lot of guidance in everything we do," says Daniel Paltridge, president of Bulgari North America.
|Firefighter injured in 2-alarm South Boston fireBoston News / 2 d. 6 h. 19 min. ago more|
A two-alarm blaze in a South Boston public housing development sent one firefighter to the hospital and displaced six people Friday afternoon. Boston fire spokesman Marc Sanders said the fire started in a three-story brick building at 66 Orton Marotta Way sometime before 4:18 p.m. The fire caused no injuries to residents, but one firefighter was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, said Sanders.
|7 holiday light shows that make the season sparkleBoston News / 2 d. 6 h. 19 min. ago more|
Stringing a strand or two of Christmas lights around the porch can be an exhausting endeavor - though the results are lovely. But if you're looking for something bigger and bolder this season, you still have time to visit some of the area's best-known holiday light displays.
|Activist investor Elliott targets Akamai, calls shares undervaluedBizjournals.com / 2 d. 7 h. 53 min. ago more|
Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund controlled by billionaire Paul Singer, has taken a 6.5 percent stake in Cambridge-based Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM), a sure sign that change is coming for a valuable pillar of the Massachusetts tech industry. Elliot's stake was revealed in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In the filing, Elliott said it believes that Akamai "possesses an unmatched network platform which provides a significant competitive advantage"…
|4 Massachusetts Restaurants Make Nation's Top 100: OpenTable - Patch.comGoogle News / 2 d. 10 h. 44 min. ago more|
Patch.com4 Massachusetts Restaurants Make Nation's Top 100: OpenTablePatch.com4 Massachusetts Restaurants Make Nation's Top 100: OpenTable. Looking to take your loved one a Christmas date to the city, but you don't know where to get a fancy meal that is actually worth going to? Well the people at OpenTable know what they are ...and more »
|Boston, Brussels Terror Victim Forgives Attackers - Patch.comGoogle News / 2 d. 12 h. 32 min. ago more|
Patch.comBoston, Brussels Terror Victim Forgives AttackersPatch.comBoston, Brussels Terror Victim Forgives Attackers. BOSTON, MA — A man who survived two terror attacks has a message for the assailants: I forgive you. Mason Wells was a short distance from one of the two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the ...and more »
|Bain to absorb Harvard’s real estate investment teamBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 33 min. ago more|
Bain Capital is taking on a 20-person team from Harvard University’s investment arm that specializes in real estate, as the Ivy League institution continues to shrink its in-house investment management capabilities. The Boston-based private equity firm will form a new unit, Bain Capital Real Estate, when the Harvard personnel officially make the switch on Feb. 1. It will be led by Dan Cummings, who now serves as head of real estate at Harvard’s investment arm, Harvard Management Co. “Joining…
|Mass. securities regulator plans 'aggressive policing' of cryptocurrency salesBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 33 min. ago more|
Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said his office will "begin a sweep of entities" in Massachusetts raising money via so-called initial coin offerings — a process by which a company sells units of its own cryptocurrency.
|Journalists guild forges settlement, including a raise, for 16 GateHouse papersBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 34 min. ago more|
A national union representing journalists throughout North America says it reached a settlement with GateHouse Media LLC on Dec. 12 that would ensure a 2.75 percent raise over two years for 750 employees at newspapers across the country, including five in New England. The NewsGuild-CWA announced in a blog post Thursday that the “first-of-its-kind agreement” will not only give many journalists their first raises in more than a decade, but will keep health care rates from increasing during the…
|Tufts Medical Center won't see nurses strike on ChristmasBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 42 min. ago more|
Union nurses at Tufts Medical Center say no strike is on the horizon, allaying fears of a possible nurses strike on Christmas.
|Randolph Savings turns to layoffs as mortgages fall offBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 43 min. ago more|
This year, fewer homeowners have been refinancing their mortgages as interest rates have increased.
|Vida Ventures, Boston’s newest healthcare VC firm, unveils $255M fundBizjournals.com / 2 d. 12 h. 45 min. ago more|
According to a federal filing, executives at the firm include former Kite Pharma CEO Arie Belldegrun, who orchestrated the California biotech’s $12 billion sale to Gilead Sciences earlier this year.
|Former Senate president: Rosenberg 'still has a chance'Bizjournals.com / 2 d. 14 h. 5 min. ago more|
A Massachusetts Senate president who has stepped aside due to allegations against a spouse. An acting president who has pledged to only stay for the duration of an investigation. And a former state senator indicted and arrested by the FBI on charges that include getting hundreds of pounds of free coffee without disclosure. The Massachusetts state Senate is in uncharted territory, as Stan Rosenberg remains a senator while investigations are underway into alleged behavior by his husband, Bryon Hefner.…
|This holiday season, treat employees with top restaurant gift cardsBizjournals.com / 2 d. 14 h. 43 min. ago more|
Treat hardworking staff right by sending them to one of these top spots.
|MA Weather: Friday Burst Of Snow On Deck - Patch.comGoogle News / 2 d. 17 h. 6 min. ago more|
Patch.comMA Weather: Friday Burst Of Snow On DeckPatch.comMore snow tonight? You better believe it. For the first third of fourth time since last weekend (depending on where you live) you'll see some snow. Tonight's snowfall - looking like it'll come in time for the evening commute - will be more a nuisance ...and more »
|Councilors push BPS to release promised assignment data Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
In 2013, the Boston Public Schools implemented a new assignment process, replacing the old three-zone system with the home-based system, and promised to give yearly updates on how the new system was affecting equity in the schools. Yet four years later, the department has yet to release data, let alone issue even one of its promised reports on the assignment system.
|Mass workers call for raised minimum wage and family leave Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
A group of activists from across the state rallied on Beacon Hill last week after turning in signatures to get two measures on the ballot in November 2018: a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2022, and paid family medical leave. The coalition, Raise Up Massachusetts, is a collection of labor, religious and community organizations and was behind the successful passage of an earned sick time state ballot question in 2014.
|In the news: Krystal Prime Banfield Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
Berklee College of Music has named Krystal Prime Banfield associate vice president of Educational Outreach and Social Entrepreneurship.
|Addiction in the elderly: An overlooked group Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
It’s hard to imagine your kindly white-haired grandmother may have a substance use disorder (SUD). But it’s very possible. In 2015 drug overdose death rates increased for all age groups, including those 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the coming of age of the baby boomers, these rates may continue to rise. This group is expected to account for about 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030.
|Mad. Park students stage walkout after headmaster suspended Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
After Boston Public School officials placed Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Executive Director Kevin McCaskill on administrative leave last week, students at the school orchestrated a walkout.
|Boston Baroque in Dorchester Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
On Dec. 30 at 2 p.m., Boston Baroque will perform their fifth annual community concert at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester. Boston Baroque is the oldest active “period instrument” orchestra in the United States. The group performs classical compositions by Mozart, Handel, Haydn and others with the types of instruments used in the composers’ time.
|With ‘Plunder,’ Tony Lewis deconstructs racial language, history Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
Visible from outside the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University in Waltham as well as indoors, a wall-size mural inspired by “Between the World and Me” renders the word “plunder” in giant, curving strokes of Gregg shorthand, the stenographers’ tool that translates sounds into curving and bisecting lines. Both an abstract image to those who cannot read the stenographic script and also an exact rendering of the word, “Plunder” is the work of the acclaimed Chicago-based artist Tony Lewis.
|Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
In their latest production, “Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” Praxis Stage proves that political theater can be as amusing and entertaining as vaudeville, without losing its teeth. Playing through Dec. 17 at First Church Boston, the play by Dario Fo follows an eccentric revolutionary using trickery to expose police brutality.
|A way of rice Bay State Banner / 2 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
Years ago, I was initiated into the ways of plov by a group of Uzbek businessmen. Plov is a Central Asian dish of rice, meat and vegetables. It is the father of rice pilaf, they told me, along with many other related dishes, such as paella.
|Putin thrashes U.S. collusion probe as ‘fabricated spymania’Big News Network.com / 3 d. 5 h. 31 min. ago more|
MOSCOW, Russia - The Russian President Vladimir Putin has come out in strong support of his American counterpart, Donald Trump, and has slammed what he called ‘fabricated spymania’ in t
|How ISIS got its hands on U.S. military weapons in SyriaBig News Network.com / 3 d. 7 h. 49 min. ago more|
WASHINGTON, U.S. - A shocking expose has emerged, based on three years of documentation of weapons recovered from the terrorist organization, once known as the world’s most fears and dangerou
|ESPN's Statement on Boston Globe StoryBig News Network.com / 3 d. 9 h. 24 min. ago more|
"We work hard to maintain a respectful and inclusive culture at ESPN. It is always a work in progress, but we're proud of the significant progress we've made in developing and placin
|U.S. FCC repeals landmark rules ensuring free, open internetBig News Network.com / 3 d. 9 h. 59 min. ago more|
WASHINGTON, U.S. - On Thursday, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decided to kill off net neutrality - repealing the landmark 2015 rules that were aimed at ensuring a free and open interne
|Parents flood School Committee meeting, urge rollback of start time change Bay State Banner / 3 d. 16 h. 11 min. ago more|
Elementary school parents flooded last night’s School Committee meeting, speaking against next year’s 7:15 a.m. start time and 1:15 p.m. end time for many elementary schools. Dozens of parents urged the School Committee to scrap the planned changes during the public comment period of the meeting which lasted over five hours.
|White Christmas In Massachusetts? We've Got A Shot - Patch.comGoogle News / 3 d. 17 h. 16 min. ago more|
Patch.comWhite Christmas In Massachusetts? We've Got A ShotPatch.comIn a vacuum, the odds aren't great. More often than not Christmas looks like any other cold winter day, as we detailed here looking at snow trends in December. Even though it's the beginning of winter, December usually doesn't get much snow. What we've ...and more »
|The moral imperative of the Christmas season Bay State Banner / 3 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
It is easy for all but the devout to forget the message of Christmas. According to St. Luke (2:14) the heavenly host appeared to announce the birth of the Christ child and deliver the message that is often repeated at this time of year: “Peace on Earth, good will to men.”
|Economic diversity is inevitable in Roxbury Bay State Banner / 3 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
It was just a matter of time before astute realtors would discover the beauty and convenient location of Roxbury. It is inevitable for Roxbury to become the home of economically as well as racially diverse residents. Those opposed to the change can protest, but they will be unable to prevent a natural process from occurring.
|Trump’s virtual lily-white court picks are a judicial horror Bay State Banner / 3 d. 21 h. 42 min. ago more|
There was little surprise at the news that Trump is packing the federal judiciary with as many white, conservative males as he can dig up. His anti-diversity federal judgeship count is indeed gruesome. To date, he has deemed only one black and one Hispanic worthy of a bench appointment. Three decades ago Reagan took much heat for his see no, find no black and Hispanic judicial appointments.
|Andrea Campbell set to take reins as City Council president Bay State Banner / 4 d. 15 h. 7 min. ago more|
District 4 City Councilor Andrea Campbell announced last week she has the votes to be elected the next president of the Boston City Council. Campbell, who will begin serving her second term representing the district that includes portions of Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain, will be the first African American woman to serve as the body’s president.
|CREDIBLE FEAR: SIHAM BYAH’S ‘DEHUMANIZING’ DEPORTATION LIMBODigBoston / 12 d. 12 h. 18 min. ago more|
Siham Byah called her experience at the Bristol County House of Correction “the Hannibal Lecter treatment” in a letter she wrote to her attorney and friends during the early morning hours of Monday, Nov 20. In an attempt to deport Byah, 40, a US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer began packing her things into two trash bags at 2:45 am. Byah is a single mother and outspoken political activist from Morocco living in Nahant. She was detained by ICE on Nov 7 during a routine immigration check-in. “I got no answer to where I’m going, or why,” Byah wrote of the experience. Eventually told she was being moved from Bristol to the South Bay House of Correction in Boston, she was transported in what she called “the cage.” “At 5am,” Byah wrote, “I got the Hannibal Lecter treatment AGAIN. Cuffs, shackles, and the works. This time, I wasn’t so shocked really; still feeling humiliated and dehumanized … but no shocked. Aren’t these the same people who locked me into solitary with no heat, denied me attorney contact, family contact, finding out Naseem’s [Byah’s 8-year-old son’s] whereabouts, meds, and heat, all because I exercised my right to enter a hunger strike?” She spent the duration of the day in a cell and at 10:40 pm was led across the jail’s basketball court to another office, where several guards and a lieutenant were waiting. Byah again asked about where she was going and reported she was told, “To NYC, where we’re going to put you on a plane and watch you go home.” Byah replied that her home was in Nahant, Mass, and that she was trying to “invoke the credible fear clause” to her asylum claim. “They [guards] said to her, ‘We are going to issue a passport for your kid so that you can take him back to Morocco,’” Byah’s partner told DigBoston. Byah eventually refused to get into the transport van to Logan Airport, where she would have been taken to New York City to board a nonstop flight to Morocco. But refusing federal officers is no easy task. One missed call to her attorney was all she got. At one point, the guards separated to confer. Byah reported that the one officer who remained gave her sound advice: “I cannot tell you this when [other officers] are here, but continue to refuse and face a judge here—it is safer. I’m not particularly enjoying my job tonight.” She continued to decline the transport, thanking the officers when they gave up. “The lieutenant went to get me new jail clothes, while an officer took me to a large, clean holding cell (unlocked) to wait for him,” she wrote in one letter. As Byah held photos of her son and partner, she thought about how close she had been to getting deported. She was taken back to the Bristol County House of Correction, where Byah eventually got in contact with her attorney, Matt Cameron. “Siham resisted deportation, and insisted on her right to a screening interview with an asylum officer to explain her fear of return to Morocco,” Cameron told DigBoston. Her attorney is hoping to acquire a “reasonable fear” screening for Byah, who has applied for political asylum. The interview, conducted by an immigration official, is often granted to immigrants who are seeking asylum due to political retribution. In cases where someone’s life is at risk, asylum can be granted. “Siham Byah’s removal is currently pending,” one ICE official told DigBoston. “For operational security reasons, ICE will not discuss the specific times and dates of any removal.” As Byah recounted in a 2012 YouTube video, the Moroccan Secret Service court martialed her for treason in 2011 to 2012 and reportedly threatened her for speaking out against human rights violations committed by the ruling Justice and Development Party of Morocco, and Morocco’s current King. Morocco currently prohibits all speech deemed to offend the king. “I was threatened with rape and that they would rape my two-year-old,” Byah said in the video. “This is how low [the Moroccan government is] willing to stoop.” “It seems like the Moroccan government wants her back,” said Cameron. Due to pending litigation, he could not go further into his concerns other than to mention that Byah was not the first Moroccan immigrant with similar political ideals to be pursued in New England. Byah was arrested on an outstanding final order of deportation issued by an immigration judge in 2012, according to ICE. Her one conviction resulted in a fine for a traffic violation. In an odd turn of events, local ICE officials have said that the order for Byah’s removal did not come from the Massachusetts office, but the DC headquarters for ICE. Byah has applied for multiple stays of removal, along with a motion to reopen her case, since her appeal to the US Board of Immigration was denied in 2013. The norm became checking in once a year for multiple stays of removal. Until now. ICE policies under President Donald Trump have changed protocols completely. Nationally, it has become commonplace for immigrants without criminal records to be detained at ICE check-ins or court hearings. Meanwhile, thousands of immigrants around the country await their fates and deal with day-to-day lives of detainment. By day 14 in custody, Byah was getting her period, and alleges she was denied tampons and could not shower due to lack of soap. When asked about what hygienic materials are provided to detainees, a senior ICE official sent an online copy of a 2011 Operations Manual, which states, “Female detainees shall be issued and may retain sufficient feminine hygiene items, including sanitary pads or tampons, for use during the menstrual cycle.” Byah alleges in her letters that she didn’t receive soap to wash her hands after a urine test, and was unable to shower and wash multiple times. Her grievances went beyond hygiene. In one note, Byah wrote, “And according to the ID they issued me, I am a Hispanic female, much much taller than I actually am, weighing 20 lbs less than I actually do with jet black hair and jet black eyes.” This is not the first time that the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has been at the center of controversy. Among other things, Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has made headlines for denying visitation rights to families of inmates, while last January he proposed sending his inmates to the southern border of the US to help build President Trump’s wall.
|HOT EARTH TIME MACHINEDigBoston / 19 d. 4 h. 14 min. ago more|
Photos by Olivia Falcigno Climate-crusading millennials write hopeful letters to future Hours before a controversial so-called “free speech” rally on the Common consumed so much media attention earlier this month, a group of 75 demonstrators assembled on the same Saturday to bury their environmental fury in hopes of sprouting solutions in turbulent times. Formed primarily by young people who are concerned about climate change, the Sunrise Movement has been working with related groups like Better Future Project and 350 Mass to hold Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (among others) environmentally accountable. Partly inspired by the actions taken by President Trump to pull out of global agreements to combat climate change, the group’s mission on the Common was to compile a time capsule reflecting their ideas, worries, and observations. “This is a community-oriented event,” said Brian Stilwell, a 30-year-old Sunrise Movement member. “[It’s] reflective of the world we want to build that is just and fair for everyone.” In what’s become something of a tradition in the climate justice movement, people of all ages, ranging from middle school to senior citizens, added their “letters to the future” to the capsule. Some brought artifacts—buttons, tchotchkes—symbolizing things they love that may not be here in 50 years if action is not taken to protect the planet. In tandem with people in other public places all across the continent, those participating in the dedication took to writing stations where locals could pen letters in real time. There was also a photo booth, where images were recorded for a digital archive, plus a slate of speakers of all ages who spoke about their experiences with climate change. Following words from participants ranging from Grady McGonagill of Elders Climate Action to Newton South High School activist Daniel Abdulah, Sunrise Movement members led the group in songs about the fight on hand. Emily Hart, a 29-year-old high school science teacher from Somerville and volunteer at the event, said she was deeply moved by some of the keepsakes submitted by young people. One middle schooler brought a milkweed pod, an item commonly eaten by migrating butterflies. If the climate continues to rise, such pods will not only become more scarce, but there will also be an impact on the food resources available for various animals. Danny Brian LeClaire came to Boston to attend the counterprotest against “free speech” provocateurs later in the afternoon, but he stopped by the Sunrise pop-up to add his own note plus a few relevant items. LeClaire has ardently protested the Dakota Access Pipeline, and contributed a button reading “mni wiconi,” which means “water is life” in Lakota. “You can’t live without water,” LeClaire said. “You can live without oil. Oil is a luxury.” By the time you read this, the capsule will be buried at the Langdon Farm in Roxbury. Along with several other capsules that were submerged all around the country, it will not be reopened until November of 2067. In the meantime… The goal of the time capsule project was not only to write, symbolically, into the future. Instead, demonstrators intended to send a message that Mass politicians will be held accountable if they reject policies to boost renewable energy. Sunrise Movement members invited the governor to stand alongside them and to commit to imposing a ban on all future fossil fuel infrastructure. It hardly came as a surprise that Baker, who is reluctant to remove natural gas from his energy planning, sat out the event. According to Stilwell, by standing on the opposite side of such issues, the governor by default stands with fossil fuel executives, President Trump, and everybody else who is responsible for putting the future at risk. To help push its agenda along, Sunrise Movement also drafted an executive order for Baker to sign, which would make him promise to protect the environment. It wasn’t their first rodeo; for two months leading up to their delivering said order, group members participated in stand-ins on Beacon Hill. According to Stilwell and others, while Baker talks about proactively preventing climate change, he hasn’t backed his words up with action. So far, the governor has not responded to their efforts. “We will be coming back in January bigger, louder, stronger, and more powerful,” Stilwell said. “[We’re going to] keep that message going and to try to push Gov. Baker to do the right thing.”
|BLOOD SUCKERS: CALL CENTER WORKERS BATTLE ABUSIVE CUSTOMERS, MANAGERS, BEDBUGSDigBoston / 19 d. 5 h. 39 min. ago more|
Abraham Zamcheck had had enough. On Wednesday, Nov 8, the 32-year-old call center representative jumped onto his desk in the offices of downtown Boston security systems firm SimpliSafe and attempted to rally his fellow workers to fight for their rights. “There are these hurdles the company makes you go through to make you feel like you shouldn’t step out of line,” Zamcheck told the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism (BINJ) in November. He took action, Zamcheck said, to change that. That action has turned him into a “working class hero,” said Steven Gillis, financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 8751. “We call on the labor movement to come to the defense of SimpliSafe workers and all unorganized struggling in this gig, precarious economy,” Gillis said. Despite the drama of his moment, Zamcheck’s not alone. After months of mistreatment, filth, and apparent abuse, workers at the Boston home security firm are taking matters into their own hands—by petitioning the company to address their grievances and by forming an organization, United SimpliSafe Workers, that they hope will help to unionize their workplace soon. And they may be part of a new national trend. “It’s telling that in a moment when traditional unions are under attack, we’re seeing workers come together in new formations, like the workers’ organization that has been formed at SimpliSafe,” said Gillian Mason, the coordinator of development and education at Massachusetts Jobs with Justice. Mason added that the solidarity movement taking place at the company is indicative of the courage and resourcefulness of labor when confronted with challenges. “It’s a sign that despite an unfavorable political climate, workers are not backing down,” she said. “They’re actually getting bolder and more creative.” UNITED “The one main thing in a struggle is to get people to come together,” said Ryan Costello. Costello, a fellow call center representative, joined with two other members of the company on Nov 6 to protest the latest incident in what employees call a long pattern of abuse at the firm’s downtown Boston headquarters. This time, it was an infestation in the company’s third- and fourth-floor call centers at 294 Washington St in Downtown Crossing. The bed bugs issue, which has reportedly been a problem since April and continues to plague the company’s Boston offices, was the tipping point for SimpliSafe workers. “We found out that SimpliSafe had been lying to us and exposing us to dangerous chemicals and pests,” said Costello. The bed bugs aren’t the whole problem. SimpliSafe workers told BINJ that the company’s treatment of its staff has long been a point of contention—and that, despite the immediacy of the ongoing issues surrounding the insects, all of those issues need to be resolved. “SimpliSafe does not value the health and safety of its workers,” read a workers’ petition posted in a company break room on Nov 7. In a statement, SimpliSafe said it was committed to its staff. “Our workforce is one of our most valuable assets and we are committed to providing a safe, productive and compliant workplace for all of our employees,” SimpliSafe spokeswoman Melina Engel wrote in a statement provided to BINJ. GOING PUBLIC Founded in 2006, SimpliSafe has a unique niche in the home security world: a do-it-yourself approach to installing a system to protect your home. The product doesn’t require anyone come into your house to do the work—necessitating the involvement of the company’s call center tech support. SimpliSafe is, for now, a privately held company. The startup boasts less than 1,000 employees and is in its seventh or eighth year of business. According to a spokesperson for United SimpliSafe Workers, speaking on background, the major question now is whether and/or when to go public. SimpliSafe’s viability is seemingly a concern for investors, who will only front so much capital. Meanwhile, the company has a product with a narrow profit margin that comes from American workers—both the boxing of security systems for distribution as well as the manning of call centers is done in the US. Manufacturing is tightly subcontracted with China, and the rest of the value of the product comes from its engineering. That’s why a labor dispute like the one brewing in Boston has potential to damage the timing of and revenue from a public offering. Employees say that their complaints haven’t resulted in much action from the top. Abraham Zamcheck says that’s nothing new. He’s worked for SimpliSafe for nearly a year, though he’s suspended right now for his involvement in protesting the treatment of workers. The problems at the company that the staff are dealing with now, said Zamcheck, are not new. “The lead-up to this has been since I started working there,” Zamcheck told BINJ. “After seeing how afraid people are, how isolated—there’s a lot of pressure.” Zamcheck and Costello are joined in their push for more workers’ rights by fellow call center representative Lauren Galloway, 22. Galloway, who lives in Brockton, has worked for SimpliSafe for five months. She joined Costello and Zamchek in their push for workers’ rights, she said, because it was a way to feel less vulnerable. The informal organization, United SimpliSafe Workers, sprung out of that desire to feel protected. Galloway said her activism came from her circumstances—not a belief system or theory. “This was completely organic for me,” she told BINJ. A CULTURE OF INTIMIDATION Staffers at the company go through a rigorous training period that some describe as demoralizing. They call it an “interview,” but it’s a 40-hour regimen. Then there’s a 30-day probationary period, after which staff receive sick days and vacation. “There are all these hurdles to go through to make you feel like you shouldn’t step out of line,” Zamcheck said. Costello and Zamcheck work as call center representatives. The task involves tech support and “by and large answering people’s questions about their home security system,” Costello explained. Costello joined the company in late February. SimpliSafe advertises predominantly on right-wing media, yet its staff is majority people of color and women. Some employees say that combination of factors, alongside the insecurity inherent in the employment, creates a hostile work environment. Each member of the workforce BINJ spoke to claimed that the company’s management engages in racial and sexual harassment and discrimination. In the most egregious instance, a worker says a white supervisor made a comment to a black subordinate implying that he could rape her because his family had owned slaves in the past. The staff is allegedly frequently the target of racial and sexual verbal abuse from the people they serve. Complaints about that treatment are frowned upon and workers are not allowed to stand up for themselves under the barrage of hate speech they may be subjected to by customers. SimpliSafe told BINJ that the company has policies in place to deal with abuse and harassment in the workplace and that the company takes allegations of misconduct seriously. “When we receive complaints, they are immediately investigated and, without going into details of personnel matters, SimpliSafe takes prompt and appropriate action,” said spokeswoman Engel. “Employees have numerous mechanisms to report issues, including direct supervisors and managerial supervisors on the call center floor, as well as human resources and senior management all of whom are in the same building.” Engel added that there were also measures in place to deal with harassment from customers. “As for any alleged issues with customers,” Engel said, “employees are trained to transfer any problematic calls to a manager, for any reason, at their own discretion.” “There is no democracy in the workplace at present, and because of how poorly we are treated, people are afraid to stand up to SimpliSafe’s draconian policies and practices,” said Costello. “That’s why we are trying to unionize.” Photos via United SimpliSafe Workers THE PETITION “We were aware of issues regarding health conditions in the building,” said Zamcheck. “The office is a disease breeding place, there’s no ventilation, it needs to be cleaned.” Workers knew there was an issue with bedbugs, too. The office had been infested with the insects for months. People complaining of the infestation were sent home and instructed not to talk about bedbugs. “Through talking to people, we found out there was a major cover-up,” said Costello. “And it’s part of a larger problem at the company of real dishonesty and treating people as if they’re disposable.” “Chemicals were sprayed,” said Costello, to fix the infestation. But workers say they were told neither of the extent of the spraying nor about the chemical used by the exterminators. The company had staff in the office the next morning. That reportedly led to workers feeling ill. One of Costello’s fellow call center representatives, a pregnant woman, spent the beginning of her shift vomiting from the toxins. “The fumes were still fresh when we went in the next day,” Galloway said. That’s normal, says Engel. “The professional exterminators recommended that there should be four hours between treatment and employees’ return and we followed that guideline,” said the SimpliSafe spokeswoman. Costello, Zamcheck, and Galloway got together in the wake of the insect infestation and drafted a petition to the company’s management. They were asking, Costello said, for honesty and clarity moving forward so that workers would know the health risks they were taking by working in an environment with both an insect infestation and chemicals. “We have come to realize,” the petition read, “that we have been deliberately deceived about this infestation; we were told that previous spraying—which occurred over a month ago—was to address the existing rodent infestation.” “This is a clear violation of Massachusetts state law,” the document continued, “and a deliberate attempt to keep us in the dark so that we will keep working.” Soon after, people started getting interrogated for their involvement with the petition, a practice known as “captive audience meetings.” Costello sees the interrogations as intimidations in violation of US labor law, designed to produce a chilling effect on the staff. And the threats were real, said Costello, who told BINJ he had seen people fired for standing up against racism and sexual harassment from both supervisors and customers. “So at 5:15, they came up on me to ask me to come in to be interrogated,” said Costello. “I knew I was about to be fired.” Costello told Galloway and Zamchek what was happening and the 32-year-old staffer took immediate action. Zamcheck was dragged out by police after being told to leave, but his goal was achieved: Costello wasn’t fired, but instead suspended—with pay. “I was in jail until 9:30 pm,” said Zamcheck. “Approximately three hours.” The officers were freaked out about the insects, Zamcheck said. When he went to court the next day, the judge threw out the charges. “In this period of dead-end, gig, high-tech capitalism, young people like Adam literally standing up to their blood-sucking call center bosses are the way forward,” said Local 8751’s Gillis. The petition and the fallout provided a minor but important victory. The entire staff saw the power of their control over their labor as the company’s call center experienced a total work stoppage through the end of the day. The way that workers at the company used their collective power to force a response, said Zamcheck, shows that the “climate of real disposability” in the company isn’t enough to stop the solidarity. “There was this enthusiasm,” said Zamcheck. The three have also filed a class action lawsuit alleging wage theft from the company. Attorney Hillary Schwab, who is representing the class, told BINJ that there were a number of circumstances under which staff were not paid for their labor: training and breaks went fully unpaid while required time-and-a-half on Sundays was also not compensated to workers at the company. “These are hourly, intense schedules, and the workers are not paid for all the work they are entitled to,” said Schwab. As far as when there will be a solution to the suit, Schwab urged patience. These things take time, she said. “We’re trying to proceed on everyone affected and obtain recovery of the lost wages,” Schwab said. SimpliSafe did not have much to say about the suit. “As this matter is in litigation, SimpliSafe will not provide any specific comments on it,” Engel said. SOLIDARITY AHEAD “The company is terrified of the power that we have when we come together and stand up,” read a document published by United SimpliSafe Workers after the Costello and Zamcheck incident. “They can pick us off one by one, but when we stand together, as some did yesterday, we have the power to change everything!” Moving forward, the three activists hope to turn their protest into concrete action. “Our hope,” said Costello, “is that through this struggle and eventually forcing the company to recognize the existence of the United SimpliSafe Workers, we can have a more democratic workplace where people can discuss and debate issues in the office with their coworkers.” For now, Costello, Galloway, and Zamcheck are all suspended—with pay. Not being able to enter the office is tough for organizing, though not an insurmountable hurdle. “This suspension is to silence us,” Zamcheck said. If so, it’s not working. The three are there in the mornings to protest, then talking to their coworkers at night. The solidarity is real, and the effect of a united front is already forcing change. The company shut down for two days on Nov 22 to spray for bedbugs. “The thing is, because we have come together and formed United SimpliSafe Workers and begun to organize, the company can no longer sweep this stuff under the rug,” Costello said. The trio hopes there are more victories ahead. So does Mason, who sees the fight at the Boston company as tied to the broader struggles of labor across the country. “With even more attacks on unions coming in the next few months,” said Mason, “we are going to need more workers like those at SimpliSafe to come forward without the protection of a traditional union.” “It’s riskier,” she added, “but necessary in this moment.” “Workers have every right to protect themselves from indignities and dangers on the job, from sexual harassment to lack of benefits and bathroom breaks to toxic pollution,” Gillis said. “Despite everything,” Zamcheck said, “people came together.” This article was produced in collaboration with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.
|A RECKONING FOR RESTAURANTS IN BOSTON AND EVERYWHEREDigBoston / 26 d. 4 h. 42 min. ago more|
This is what happens when you mess with the Mass service industry It’s been a rough few weeks, news-wise, for Boston’s restaurant industry. First, on Nov 4 the Boston Globe published a page-one feature about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the industry (spoiler: It’s bad, really bad). Then, less than a week later, Tenzin Samdo, a prominent member of the local industry community and superstar behind the bar, was aggressively harassed by an entitled dickhead BU professor who went on to write an obscenely inappropriate Yelp review of Samdo’s workplace, Art Science Cafe. Not all press is good press (just ask the econ prof, Dirk Hackbarth). So why would I, an active member of the industry, rehash these stories? Because harassment—sexual and otherwise—is a problem in restaurants. Since humans with anatomically different genitals began to coexist in kitchens, behind bars, and on the floor, it’s been a prevalent and accepted part of the culture. Don’t like dick jokes? Kitchen work’s not for you. Have a problem with the way your male colleagues talk about female guests? Probably shouldn’t wait tables. These have been the norms for far too long. And everyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows it. The Globe article highlighted nothing new, but it has sparked a much-needed conversation about the issue of workplace harassment at a local level. On Tuesday, Nov 21, Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri, owners of Juliet in Somerville who frequently host social justice and restaurant-related activist gatherings, had a free public event to discuss sexual harassment in the industry. The invite asked: What have you seen? Heard? What to do when reporting seems impossible? What solutions can you propose to make our beloved industry safe and welcoming for everyone? With a panel of industry leaders and lots of room for frank discussion and questions, this event was the first of its kind when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment, and it came from the inside: no state agency, HR collective, or worker’s rights advocacy group guilted Lewin and Jazayeri into hosting this event. They did it because it’s the right thing to do. When Tenzin (sorry, we worked together, referring to him by his last name is weird) posted about his experience on social media (because everyone needs to vent sometimes), the post had hundreds of comments within hours, all expressing outrage and solidarity. The nefarious Yelp review, which Tenzin included, was shared dozens of times. Twelve hours later, Mass news outlets were out with the story about Hackbarth’s odious behavior, while BU condemned his words and actions. And the Boston restaurant community made that happen. You don’t fuck with family. All this is to say that yes, the restaurant industry, like every other industry, has some skeletons in its closet. But unlike most other industries, we’re facing them head on. We are, collectively and collaboratively, working to make the places and spaces we work, the restaurants we pour hours of our lives, buckets of our sweat and, sometimes, gallons of our tears into, safer and better. As we crash into the winter holidays, it can be hard—especially for people who work in restaurants, since someone has to work at your holiday parties—to take a moment to breathe and think and reflect on the year that’s coming to a close. It hurt to read about the blunt realities of sexual harassment in restaurants and to know we have allowed it to become normalized. It was infuriating to read about a talented and respected member of my professional community being so disrespected. But the prompt response from the local industry made me incredibly grateful to be a part of it and so, so thankful for family. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
|MASS WIRE: TOUGHER TESTS DON’T IMPROVE TEACHING QUALITYDigBoston / 26 d. 5 h. 43 min. ago more|
BOSTON — New research seems to suggest what many Bay State educators have been saying for a while: the time spent preparing students for testing can degrade the overall quality of teaching. A new study, that includes two unidentified Massachusetts school districts, found when tougher tests were used in districts that already had higher quality teaching, the test-prep instruction was of a lower quality than regular classroom lessons. President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Barbara Madeloni, said an excessive focus on testing necessarily narrows the curriculum. “In really high-quality educational settings students and educators are all working together to create knowledge, to explore questions,” Madeloni said. “‘Teaching to the test’ really undermines deep learning, deep thinking and student engagement.” Some supporters of standardized testing argue that tougher tests and more test-prep instruction make for better overall learning. But the study, published in the journal “Educational Researcher,” found that wasn’t the case. This spring, only half of the state’s third through eighth grade students met or exceeded expectations on the new MCAS tests in Math and English. And Madeloni said they’re hearing from more parents about the incredible pressure testing is putting on students. “That is so deeply troubling to all of us – that we have lots of evidence that this isn’t working and yet, policymakers seem to be turned off to that evidence, and to the voices of people who are actually living these experiences every day,” she said. “We’ve got to turn that around.” The Massachusetts Teachers Association is calling for a moratorium on standardized testing. And an Education Reform Review Task Force, formed as part of Senate Bill 308, is examining high-stakes testing in the state.
|‘I CAN’T HANG THEM WITHOUT THEIR WORDS’DigBoston / 28 d. 3 h. 36 min. ago more|
BPD arbitrarily blocks press access throughout controversial demonstration PHOTOS BY KORI FEENER The scene on Boston Common this past Saturday hardly resembled the mass demonstrations that roiled the Hub in August. This time, tens of thousands of people didn’t come out from across New England to protest against ultra right-wing groups. Instead, only a few hundred folks came to condemn the hate speech that those who spoke on the bandstand defend vigorously. At the same time, there were some familiar occurrences. Namely, the Boston Police Department came to the defense of the so-called free speech defenders, stepping on freedom of the press in the process. By 11 am, there was already a small crowd of counterprotesters by barricades preventing them from entering the rally area by Parkman Bandstand. Some gave interviews to journalists; others spoke with the police at the gate, making attempts to enter; a few waved anti-fascist flags. Nearby, members of the media were clustered by a checkpoint that an officer—at yet another checkpoint—directed us to. One reporter told DigBoston, “We were told we’d be allowed in. [We’ve] been unable to speak with anyone. I can’t tell how genuine they [the organizers] are. I can’t hang them without their words … can’t form an opinion without their statements.” A mainstream radio reporter chimed in, “We’re in the same boat, just waiting here.” Prior to the rally, the New England chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists—along with the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union—put Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans on notice. Referring to the event last summer, the aforementioned groups wrote: “Journalists could not hear what participants said, record or photograph the proceedings near the Bandstand, or interview participants, including about the reasons for their involvement and views.” For Saturday, they requested “that significant changes be made to comply with the First Amendment, while ensuring public safety, with regard to the ‘Rally for the Republic’ planned for November 18.” You would have thought that such a letter and amicus brief would have at least resulted in a specified media entrance. That didn’t happen. Instead, journalists were bounced from checkpoint to checkpoint, spending significant time requesting access into gates so that they could conduct interviews with speakers and rallygoers. Even when approached politely to ask for direction, most officers were rude, unknowledgeable, and misguided. A WBUR reporter tried to get into the barricades at around 12:11 and tweeted out, “This is as close as @bostonpolice is allowing @WBUR to the ‘Anti-Marxist’ rally speakers on Boston Common for now.” The station retweeted. The reporter told DigBoston, “I tried to get across the barricades to the bandstand but was told by BPD officers that they were awaiting instructions before letting anyone through. Police officers then told press that people would be allowed through another entrance first. After a while, a police officer said he had no instructions to let anyone through.” A member of the ACLU then informed him that press could enter at another checkpoint, and he was eventually admitted. Journalists from television stations said they were able to get in only after the program began at noon. Some reporters—including those from DigBoston, WBZ, BU News Service, and several freelance photographers—waited around for up to two hours before that. A newspaper journalist said, “I just came in with the crowd, right around noon. It was weird because I got here really early, I was stuck out there forever … They kept us out for—I don’t know why.” There was apparently a discrepancy between how some legacy news organizations were treated, being given easier access, and how smaller, independent publications were handled. One Boston 25 reporter walked right through the barricades after the speakers began talking. “It was super easy,” they told Dig “They actually didn’t even wand us because we are with Boston 25.” Other reporters, including yours truly, were wanded for security purposes. One friendly officer was hungry and seemed interested in the stale bread in my purse. Lisa Button is a reporter with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and wanted to be situated behind the barricades before the event. “I just feel like right now, similar to what happened in August, we’re being prevented from conducting interviews before the event,” Button said. “I was hoping to come here and interview those attending the rally, but it is the same as before, no one is getting close to where the planned activity is … I feel like something should be done.” She was allowed in more than one hour later. This is how things went down despite an email written by a BPD legal advisor to the ACLU prior to Saturday: As to the City’s position on media access on Saturday, it is the City’s position that members of the media will not be restricted from entering any areas accessible to event participants. Additionally, members of the media will not be restricted on what equipment they can bring to the event. Of course should public safety concerns arise, there may be restrictions put in place, but at this time there are no such restrictions anticipated. Asked about this statement, as well as protester arrests and media access at the event, BPD spokesperson Officer James Kenneally confirmed “that there were 3 arrests made during today’s event on Boston Common (2 for Disorderly Conduct and 1 for Assault & Battery on a Police Officer)” but offered little more. Kenneally wrote in an email to DigBoston: [T]here’s not much more info available at this time. That said, Commissioner Evans is on record saying the following: ‘From a public safety perspective, today’s event on Boston Common couldn’t have gone much better and I certainly have my officers to thank for that. Their constant poise and professionalism never goes unnoticed and I thank them again for a job well done.’ As for complaints relative to media access allowed during today’s event, your complaint is the first and only one we’ve received. In fact, media members we’ve spoken to had no issues with access provided today. DigBoston responded with screenshots of complaints lodged on social media. To which the BPD spokesperson responded: Good to know, Sarah. Thank you. As for complaints relative to media access allowed during today’s event, again, your complaint remains the first and only one we’ve received unless Fred Thys wants to contact our office directly. And, not to be repetitive, but the media members we’ve spoken to had no issues relative to access provided during today’s event. Even if the tweet referenced above mentioned the Boston Police Department, apparently, it was not considered an official complaint. That begs the question: How much in addition to an amicus memorandum and letter from preeminent civil rights and journalism organizations will it take for the City of Boston and its police department to recognize the necessities of unfettered access and the harm that is being caused by hampering press freedoms? Do they expect every reporter or freelance journalist to feel comfortable enough to lodge a complaint by phone without the concern that this will hamper future interactions with the BPD? Do they understand that some reporters need the permission of an editor to make that phone call? Most bite the bullet and tweet or post on Facebook about it, and considering the level of social media surveillance done by the BPD, perhaps this should shout “red flag, fix it.” Despite BPD claims, and assurances from public officials that media without proper credentials would have access to the bandstand, several independent photographers and documentarians were blocked. DigBoston spoke with Isaac Wright-Lichter and Chris Tribou, two documentarians who occasionally work in public access television, and Wright-Lichter said, “We wanted to get closer to the speakers so we could include better footage … We asked one set of police officers. They said we could go around. We thought we had misunderstood, and were confused. We asked another group [of officers] what the best entrance to get in was, and they said we just ‘couldn’t go in.’” Following the speeches on the bandstand, police led demonstrators through a safe exit for their march to the State House. Officers rode bikes on both sides of the moving rally, while other cops flanked in front and behind the contingent. By Park and Beacon streets, police vehicles and lines of officers blockaded both lanes, with counterprotesters kept at a distance, save for a couple of people who engaged in heated face-to-face debates on race. Despite the respect and protection they got from police, organizers of the “free speech” fandango also disapproved of the way BPD handled media. “The conditions they applied in August were not acceptable,” one rally organizer told DigBoston. “We wanted to hold a public rally.” As for Saturday’s event, they continued, “We know that the well-known media organizations were let in, so that is a big improvement; what is not an improvement and needs to be corrected is we invited other media to come with us, and we told the police that they were supposed to come in, and that media was prevented from coming in or had their equipment taken away.”
|SMALL TOWN SWAT TEAM: A SPECIAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE ‘MILITARIZATION OF MAYBERRY’ IN MASSDigBoston / 30 d. 17 h. 14 min. ago more|
For a police department of only 40 officers, the April 23, 2015, raid by Ludlow Special Response Team had to be an all-hands-on-deck affair. At shortly past five o’clock in the morning, a team of 12 Ludlow officers—amounting to more than a quarter of the town’s entire police force—arrived at the house of a suspected drug dealer. In the inky darkness of early morning, the SRT disembarked from their vehicles and split into groups. Two K-9 officers working with the team that morning were among those who took perimeter positions, while those on the entry team “stacked” behind the front door with ballistic shields and weapons drawn. When the SRT knocked and announced they were there to execute a search warrant, Ludlow police records show that officers soon noticed a “male party” inside the house who appeared to be running away from the door. Right on cue, the “breachers” on the SRT team put their training to work, hammering away at front and rear doors of the home until officers could burst through to apprehend the subject. His crime? Growing marijuana plants in a closet. Among the damning evidence turned up in the ensuing search of the residence by Ludlow detectives were five issues of High Times magazine. No weapons were recovered, suggesting that the warrant was low-risk and making it doubtful that a military-style operation was even needed. Northeast of Springfield, across the Chicopee River, Ludlow is a leafy suburb known for its small-town feel and annual Portuguese festival. While it may have its share of drug problems, there is hardly any violent crime. But when neighboring Springfield experienced a spike in robberies in the early 2000s, Ludlow Police decided this mill town of 21,000 souls needed another layer of protection. So, it established a Special Response Team, or SRT. Although it doesn’t have an armored vehicle like many SWAT teams, Ludlow SRT has most of the other gear associated with tactical operations. In 2015, a $50,000 grant from the Department of Justice was used to outfit the team with ballistic shields, helmets, and body armor. Like most SWAT teams in the country, Ludlow’s is part time, with officers splitting their duties between SRT and patrol. Since SRT is rarely used—in over a decade it has been activated an average of just once or twice per year—tactical officers gain most of their experience through training. As recommended by the standards of the National Tactical Officer Association, each Ludlow SRT team member spends roughly 5 percent of their on-duty time, or 16 hours per month, training for tactical operations. Such professional development can be costly—monthly training for 10 SRT officers on an average patrolman’s salary comes to nearly $2,000 per month out of the city budget. Still, current SRT commander Lt. Michael Brennan believes even officers in such a small, relatively safe community like Ludlow need to be prepared for any eventuality. “You’ll be confronted with things and you better be ready,” he told this reporter. “As a professional, that’s how you should approach it.” An analysis of hundreds of pages of police records and incident reports, obtained through public records requests, shows that small town police departments like Ludlow are amassing enormous arsenals (often with the help of federal grant programs), use SWAT in ways that go beyond their original mission, and are sometimes unable to properly select and train officers. Some experts feel that this phenomenon highlights a much larger problem: too many SWAT teams in the state, eating up too many municipal budgets, without enough to do. A GROWING TREND Ludlow represents what some observers see as a disturbing trend in policing—the “militarization of Mayberry,” as Dr. Peter Kraska puts it. Dr. Kraska, a professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University and an authority on the police use of SWAT teams, has surveyed police departments across the country and estimates that the number of such tactical units in agencies serving populations under 50,000 grew from 20 percent in the 1980s to 80 percent in the mid-2000s. Ludlow may be the smallest town in the state with its own SWAT team, but it’s hardly alone in the rankings. A number of other small cities and towns have tactical units at the ready. And that sucking sound you hear? It’s the flow of local and federal dollars going to shore up these teams. If things get out of hand in “America’s Premier Cultural Resort,” authorities are able to call on Berkshire County Special Response Team, composed of officers from Pittsfield, Lee, North Adams, and surrounding towns. Thanks to homeland security grants, since 2012 the team has nabbed night vision goggles, SWAT headsets and helmets, tactical body armor, and the ever-popular BearCat armored vehicle. The total cost to the US taxpayer for all this equipment: $468,364.82. The police department in Westfield (pop. 41,552) goes a step further to cultivate a military mindset in its SWAT officers. In April 2015, at a time when post-Ferguson America was engaging in a debate over the militarization of police, the city shelled out $4,400 to send its Special Response Team to a conference 200 miles away to attend the “Bulletproof Mind” seminar by controversial “killology” police trainer, Lt. Col. David Grossman. Based in Greenfield, the newest SWAT team in Massachusetts serves the state’s most rural county. In June 2016, Franklin County Regional Special Response Team was deemed ready to deploy after taking in more than $115,000 in homeland security grants for officers’ training and tactical gear. Since then, it has been used just once—to serve a firearm-related search warrant. Recent moves by the Trump administration may make it even easier for such agencies to stock up on tactical gear. In May 2015, then-President Obama signed an executive order leading to a ban on transferring certain types of surplus equipment to local police through a Department of Defense program known as 1033. But the changes were mostly cosmetic, cutting off access to equipment that few local police had requested to begin with: .50 caliber guns and weaponized aircraft, for example. Still, in response to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police—the nation’s largest law enforcement labor organization—in September President Trump announced that he would rescind Obama’s order. Police Report of 2015 Ludlow Raid by Newspapers of New England on Scribd MISSION CREEP SWAT originated in the latter part of the 1960s in response to high-profile incidents like the Watts riots and the clock tower shooter at the University of Texas, Austin. The idea was that a specially trained unit needed to be in place to address situations—like hostages, snipers, or armed barricaded suspects—that exceeded the capabilities of patrol officers. One of the first such units in Massachusetts came together in 1971, when a select group of state troopers formed the Special Tactical Operations (STOP) Team. According to a brief official history, included in a standard operating procedures manual provided by the state police, the STOP Team was formed as a way of heading off “armed confrontations against the establishment” that were part of that era’s “turbulent society.” While such “confrontations” slowed to a trickle as time went on, SWAT teams continued to grow across the state like mushrooms after a downpour. With the increase in SWAT teams comes concern about “mission creep” and suggestions that their paramilitary approach to policing is being overused in non-crisis situations. According to a review of news reports and police websites, there now appear to be at least 23 police SWAT teams operating in Massachusetts. For a small state, redundancy and overlapping services are a given. There are now seven tactical police units serving the sparsely populated western part of the state—four independent SWAT teams and two regional units, as well as the state police tactical team. Most deploy only three or four times a year, tops. (The state police team, which typically deploys between 180 and 200 times per year across the Commonwealth, is an outlier). Even greater redundancy exists in the Boston area. More recently, SWAT teams are justified by the threat of terrorist attacks. In a 2011 request for funding to purchase the BearCat, a SWAT officer with the Berkshire County SRT wrote that the unit was being used exclusively for “dangerous and life-threatening” situations and claimed that the rural Berkshires presented a “unique target environment for any terrorist group planning a potential attack.” A redacted half-page portion of the application lists locations that might be particularly enticing to groups like ISIS. The following year, homeland security funding to the tune of $295,000 came in, and the team bought its BearCat. Even the most ardent critics of police militarization acknowledge that there is a genuine need for tactically trained officers to respond to certain situations—active shooter scenarios, for example. Problem is, the types of incidents SWAT teams are supposedly meant to address hardly ever occur in small towns in the state. According to Tom Nolan, a former SWAT officer and 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department who now teaches criminology at Merrimack College in North Andover: “If you don’t have situations where the public would endorse use of the SWAT team, the tendency can be for SWAT teams to be deployed for reasons we could see as less than legitimate.” Records from departments in rural Western Massachusetts show numerous examples of tactical officers deploying on questionable grounds to conduct ordinary police work. In November 2012, shortly after Berkshire County SRT’s BearCat was first acquired, Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn told a reporter for the Springfield Republican that the vehicle “can be used in a variety of police situations that carry a high degree of danger, such as armed standoffs, drug raids or even to rescue police and civilians pinned down by gunman.” In a region short on danger, however, sometimes you have to create your own. In one of the first deployments of the BearCat, Berkshire County SRT officers simulated a hostage scenario for the benefit of some North Adams elementary school students. In a particularly dramatic part of the performance, an officer emerged from the BearCat’s turret to point an AR-15 at a teacher who was playing the role of “perp.” In 2015, the Ludlow Special Response Team deployed in response to an individual expressing “suicidal ideation.” In the SWAT world, individuals who are threatening to harm only themselves are often placed in the same category as “barricaded suspect” situations and thus require a SWAT deployment. In this case, family members declined to let the police unit into the home, and the man eventually accepted an ambulance ride to a local hospital. Twice yearly, in yet more action for the $295,000 armored vehicle, Berkshire Regional SRT deploys to October Mountain State Forest in Lee to police a picnic of the local chapter of the Hell’s Angels. There, SRT officers are joined by a police mobile command vehicle, which conducts video surveillance of the area. Although SRT has routinely been assigned to this event since 2012, the only law enforcement action ever taken has been to issue tickets for moving violations. In an email, Pittsfield Police Chief and Berkshire County SRT Commander Michael Wynn wrote that while mission creep was a “valid concern,” operations like the State Forest picnic fit within the unit’s broader mission to serve “as an on-call resource for Departments to access additional personnel quickly.” AN INVESTIGATION LIKE NO OTHER The classic example of SWAT’s mission creep are “dynamic entries” to serve warrants for nonviolent drug crimes. As legal observers have long pointed out, this sort of SWAT deployment is problematic for a number of reasons. Raids to execute a search warrant for sale or possession of drugs are conducted on the basis of suspicion a crime has been committed. As the American Civil Liberties Union commented in its 2014 report on SWAT tactics, with such raids there is “no criminal case, no formal suspects, and often little if any proof that a crime has been committed; it is simply an investigation.” But they are an investigation like no other: Officers knock down doors, scream and point weapons at people, and generally create “shock and awe” conditions—as one headline in the Berkshire Eagle described a Berkshire County SRT operation. Usually SWAT teams are used only to serve “high risk” warrants, as when they seek to search for drugs in a residence where guns are known to be present or if police want to recover an illegal firearm that had been recently used in a violent crime. Of course, so much depends on whether police have done their homework beforehand. Occasionally, SWAT teams raid homes on the flimsiest of evidence. Typical of the genre is the March 3, 2011, raid by Berkshire County Special Response Team. On that day, they descended on Bruce Johnson’s mobile home in Ashley Falls, a village of Sheffield (pop. 3,257) located about one mile from the Connecticut border. According to an after-action review of the incident obtained using a public records request, the SRT sought to execute a “no-knock” search warrant for what police believed was a case of illegal possession of firearms. On the scene: nearly twenty BCSRT officers, including at least four snipers, as well as the team’s trusty BearCat armored vehicle. After awakening at six in the morning to the sounds of police urging him to surrender via megaphone, Johnson exited his house to find a small army arrayed on his lawn: “Behind every tree I saw a cop,” he recalled in a 2014 interview for the weekly Berkshire Record, “and they all had their guns pointed at me.” Upon his arrest, police began to search for the firearms—a part of the operation that local news outlets later reported left the home “in shambles.” Police recovered five pistols from a safe in Johnson’s house. Afterwards, back at the Sheffield Police station, SWAT officers took a moment to pose for a photo that was later posted on the website PoliceOne.com. (A caption tells readers that the image was taken “after we executed a search warrant on an individual illegally stockpiling firearms.”) But none of it was true. Johnson had a landscaping business in Connecticut, a state where he also registered his motor vehicle and—crucially—his guns. A judge later determined that the search warrant had been improper because there was simply no evidence that the guns were “related to criminal activity.” Two years after the raid, following a court battle that cost Johnson $45,000, prosecutors dropped all charges against him. The aforementioned ACLU report, based on nearly 4,000 public records obtained from police departments across the country, found that around 80 percent of all SWAT deployments were for the purpose of executing such search warrants—usually for drugs. Records obtained and reviewed in the course of this investigation also found warrant service to be a commonplace reason for deploying small town SWAT teams in Massachusetts. In 2015, eight of nine call-outs by Berkshire County SRT were to execute “no-knock” search warrants. The same year, Westfield’s team was less busy, deploying on only two occasions—both to serve drug-related search warrants. “The bread and butter of policing in the United States and Massachusetts is the war on drugs,” according to Kade Crockford, who directs the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “If the SWAT team is the hammer, the drug war is the nail.” The use of SWAT in such scenarios has drawn criticism not only from the ACLU, but from within the ranks of tactical officers themselves. In a 2015 editorial for the NTOA’s quarterly journal, Tactical Edge, Phil Hansen, director emeritus of that organization, warned that “indiscriminate use of SWAT uniforms, weapons and equipment in a one-size-fits-all manner during low-risk warrant service or civil disorder missions can only lead to problems and criticism.” SHALLOW POOL Smaller police departments face difficulties selecting personnel for their SWAT teams. Tactical operations require disciplined, focused officers, excellent marksmen who are physically fit and psychologically sound. Choosiness is a necessity. Sid Heal knows how important selection is to a SWAT team. Current president of the California Tactical Officers Association, Heal retired at the rank of commander from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department—the largest sheriff’s department in the country—after spending more than a decade on its special operations team. “When we were doing selection,” Heal said in a phone interview, “we got to pick from one-half of 1 percent of the available applicant pool. Needless to say, the selection process was intense.” Documents and SWAT policy manuals obtained for this investigation detail training and selection standards for small town teams in Mass. But how selective can you really be when—as is the case in Ludlow—you have to build a SWAT team and have only 40 officers to choose from? In an email, Ludlow’s Lt. Brennan said officers under his command had to meet standards for physical fitness and firearms proficiency, among other qualifications. “Some applicants have trouble with selection process, even if they are in great shape,” he wrote. Training is another key area where small-town SWAT teams can come up short. Since tactical teams are designed to respond to extremely dangerous situations, it is important that their members are well-prepared. What’s more, because teams may only deploy a handful of times per year, training is how officers gain much of their tactical experience. The NTOA recommends 16 hours per month as the ideal amount of training for a SRT officer. While Ludlow’s team meets that requirement, other small departments often lack the time and resources necessary to provide SWAT officers with the minimum amount of monthly training. Case in point: Whip City. The Westfield Police Special Response Team was started in 1999 and led for years by Lieutenant Paul Kousch. When Sergeant Jeffrey Baillargeon took over in June 2012 as SRT team leader, he was so concerned about lax training standards for the unit that he sent a memo to the Westfield police chief outlining his concerns. The SRT team “has had at best an intermittent training schedule over the years,” Baillargeon wrote. Years of inadequate training were due to several factors, he added, including “scheduling and money.” Baillargeon concluded his memo with a proposal that each month the chief release SRT officers from their regular patrol duties in order to complete an eight-hour training period. Although eight hours per officer would represent half of the NTOA’s monthly training recommendation for SWAT officers, such a training regimen, Baillargeon emphasized, would still “set the example for professionalism and increase morale in the department as a whole.” According to training documents reviewed for this article, Baillargeon’s proposal got off to a good start. Following Sgt. Baillargeon’s memo, in June 2012, records show that the team trained together five times during the remainder of that year. But the initiative would also create an additional burden for a department so strapped for cash that it had previously relied on citizens’ donations and an annual charity golf tournament to shore up its 12-member Special Response Team, and the frequency of their training soon tapered off. In 2013, SRT members completed the eight-hour training goal on only five months of the year; five months of training were also recorded in 2014. By 2015, the available records show the team was able to notch only a single eight-hour training session—in March. After initially agreeing to answer questions for this story via email, Baillargeon later declined to comment on the training situation for Westfield SRT. Berkshire County SRT Deployment Documents by Newspapers of New England on Scribd LIABILITY, RESPONSIBILITY SWAT teams in small cities and towns that are not training to NTOA standards run the risk of “operational failures,” which may then lead to increased liability and exposure, according to attorney Eric Daigle. A former Connecticut state trooper who now runs a law practice specializing in defending police from civil liberties claims, Daigle said, “If you have a team, you need to be running with the standards required by NTOA. If not, you’re going to impose some significant damages on your agency and your officers.” Stephen M. Clark—chief of police in Newington, Connecticut, and a 24-year veteran of SWAT operations—concurs. For a 2015 research paper, Clark surveyed SWAT officers in the Nutmeg State to get a sense of how frequently their teams deployed and how much training they received. He found a tremendous amount of overlap—there are over two dozen SWAT teams in what is geographically the nation’s third-smallest state—along with a number of small agencies that were not properly training their officers. Clark concluded that when police departments lack the resources to meet “minimum standards for selection, training, and team composition,” then they should consider “either disbanding the team or merging with a regional tactical team.” Cost savings, as well as gaining an increased edge in the competition for federal grants to law enforcement, may be an inducement for some Commonwealth departments to combine their resources. In much of the state, SWAT teams manned by the numerous “law enforcement councils” are examples of regional, multijurisdictional teams. Given redundancy, tight municipal budgets, and largely inactive units with little to do in low-crime small towns and cities, retired Boston cop Tom Nolan thinks it may be time for some to be disbanded or merged with other teams: “I think it’s fair to question why we have so many SWAT teams in Massachusetts.” Greater regionalization would reduce redundancy of services across small towns and cities, and decrease liability for departments with SWAT teams that are currently not able to train to NTOA standards. It would also deepen the available pool of applicants for positions on the SWAT team. In an email, Newington’s Chief Clark explained: “A reduction in the number of teams will result in more competition for positions on regional teams. More competition leads to teams having more qualified candidates to choose from.” Predicted cost savings, as well as gaining an increased edge in the competition for federal grants to law enforcement, has led Ludlow’s Lt. Mike Brennan to consider a future partnership with the SRT team in neighboring Chicopee. In an interview, Lt. Brennan said that he has long wanted to form a regional team out of the two existing units: “Long term, that’s where we want to go, and it has to do with a lot of things: resources, funding, better equipment.” Merger plans are currently only at the discussion stage and may take years to implement. “In the meantime,” Lt. Brennan says, “We have a responsibility to plan for the inevitable.” But some critics are not convinced that such mergers will be enough. One of them is Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Small-town SWAT teams will inevitably lead to law enforcement overreach because, Crockford said, “If law enforcement has a tool it tends to want to use it.” But the bigger issue, they said in an interview, is police militarization, “the degree to which law enforcement thinks it’s appropriate to use these kinds of battlefield tactics in domestic policing.” As the ACLU continues monitoring the use of police SWAT teams in the state and across the country, Crockford also hopes that someone in the state legislature takes up the issue of SWAT deployments. A short-lived Maryland state law that mandated that police report basic information about how their departments use SWAT teams impresses the civil liberties advocate the most. “It’s probably more important for law enforcement to be transparent,” Crockford added, “than for any other kind of government agency because we give law enforcement the power to deprive us of our own liberty and to use violence.” This article was produced in collaboration with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and is the first installment in a series about SWAT deployment and police militarization in Massachusetts.
|STATE WIRE: MASS TAKES STEP TOWARD SINGLE PAYERDigBoston / 32 d. 14 h. 9 min. ago more|
BOSTON – State senators have approved an amendment to a bill that could help pave the way to a single-payer health-care system in Massachusetts. The amendment, now attached to a larger health-care reform bill in the legislature, directs the state’s nonpartisan Health Policy Commission to compare three years of actual health-care costs in the state to the cost under a model single-payer system. Ture Turnbull, director of the group Mass-Care, calls the amendment a progressive step forward for the Commonwealth that will help set the stage for the nation. “Using that data, you can start to have the conversation of where are the cost drivers, where are the potential savings, and where can we actually streamline the whole conversation to get to guaranteed universal health care without the overhead of the insurance industry,” he explains. Massachusetts currently spends more on health care than any other state. The bill is now in the House, which may make major changes to the legislation. Turnbull says the uncertainty of the future of the Affordable Care Act on the federal level means that the state has to look at ways to provide healthcare to its most vulnerable citizens. “The only real way to address these concerns is to talk about cost savings,” he says. “And the only way to talk about cost savings is to remove ourselves from a broken health-care delivery system.” In 2012, this bill was defeated in the Senate by seven votes, but this time it passed by a margin of 33-to-3. Turnbull also says in the past five years the health-care debate has moved beyond the halls of Congress and the state House and has moved to the street. “This is the number one issue, I feel, for a lot of families, a lot of individuals and for businesses, and the future of the Commonwealth,” he adds. “It’s all coming together at this time right now.” Under the bill, a finding that single-payer is better would commit the Legislature to enacting a single-payer plan.
|FROM DECAY GROUND TO PLAYGROUND (AND BACK AGAIN)DigBoston / 33 d. 11 h. 48 min. ago more|
Photo by Olivia Falcigno Somerville residents reclaim empty lot, then forced out in latest rift of 10-year saga On a recent weekend afternoon in Winter Hill, a group of neighbors, forced by a court order, dismantled a community-built park they had raised in an empty lot. For a decade, 30 Sewall St in Somerville has been a “vacant eyesore” to surrounding residents. The property once served as an employee parking lot for Star Market, but according to neighbors, the space transformed into an area for people to defecate, urinate, litter, and consume drugs and alcohol after the grocery store shuttered in 2007. In a rapidly changing city where there’s seemingly a battle involving developers, residents, and bureaucrats waging on every block, the Sewall Street struggle stands out as a particular point of contention. In 2010, after they were blocked from an attempt to lease the property to Ocean State Job Lot, the owners of the parcel filed a complaint against Somerville in Middlesex Land Court. Following a ruling that the city’s planning board was indeed able to dictate what kind of building should go there—basically, community leaders want something higher-end and mixed use, rather than a discount store—officials said they hoped that both sides would bury the hatchet. But then there were appeals, and subsequent decisions, and no movement at all. So, since the lot’s still empty, and because it has been frequented by vagrants, residents took another route. According to Winter Hill resident Ian Adelman, in September Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, along with candidates for that area’s alderman position, joined residents at the lot to speak about various possibilities. Adelman said the idea of taking the parcel by eminent domain in order to make it a park was considered, but the mayor encouraged the community to pursue a project and solution on its own. In October, the Winter Hill Neighborhood Association, a group of Somerville residents whose mission is to improve the quality of life on Winter Hill, convened in the lot once again, this time to further discuss plans. Additional meetings with the city followed, but in time association members decided to take matters into their own hands. As Curtatone wrote on Facebook in early September, “Somerville needs community activism around spaces like this to hit SomerVision’s goal of 125 acres of open space.” Calls for donations yielded, among other things, a swing set, a basketball hoop, a sandbox, and plants. Random contributions helped the neighbors redesign the space, and they recently began hosting events there—a walk-in movie night, a family halloween party. A community garden was in the works, and according to Stephen Moore, a direct abutter, remnants of litter became less and less prominent. Moore said, “Within weeks, we didn’t see the little brown bags being left on the stairs and less and less the bottles filled with urine… The group that used to gather right over there and defecate and urinate on the transformer in my garage stopped hanging out. They would move over to the fence and then they were gone all together.” Event planning and donations of park items continued. But on Oct 27, residents witnessed their first signs of opposition when fences went up with signs marking the property as private. On Nov 2, the owner of the lot served a cease and desist order on Moore. In a subsequent exchange with the Winter Hill Neighborhood Association and Stephen Moore, the owning family wrote, “We do not have a problem with the motivation behind your efforts to use the property, but surely you must understand that the owner of the property should have been consulted and a part of any discussion on how the property will be used and by whom.” According to email exchanges, which were shared on a Sewall Commons Facebook page, the owners were concerned with liability issues and wanted the property returned to its original form. The residents empathized, but still stand behind their morphing the negative space into a positive one for the overall safety of the community. Erika Tarlin, a longtime resident of Somerville, expressed her aggravation on the day association members were clearing the makeshift park. “It is still cracked concrete and a chain linked fence but kids don’t see that,” Tarlin said. “They just see a chance to play, and what’s wrong with that? Mr. Cohen thinks there is lots wrong with it.” In his turn, Chad Cohen, the vice president of the owning realty group, blamed the city for the impasse. In a letter to Moore (that Cohen also sent to DigBoston in response to our request for comment), he wrote: This property has been family-owned since 1948, and since that time the Property has been fully occupied. It was not until Star Market abruptly departed in 2008 that we had an opportunity to make improvements to the property and bring in a new tenant. Unfortunately, the City [of Somerville] had different ideas and wanted the site developed into a large dense mixed use building … The City created an overlay zoning district to both promote its own vision for development while blocking us from renting to viable tenants that we felt would have been perfect for the Winter Hill neighborhood … In those discussions with the City, the area you are currently using as a playground, was being proposed by the City to be the entrance and egress for an underground parking lot … Despite our success in the years of litigation that followed our efforts to get a tenant in the building, the City has vowed to fight on, and in doing so has essentially blocked us from putting in grocery stores, national retail tenants, or any other businesses that we felt would add vibrancy to the neighborhood. In response to that characterization, a Somerville spokesperson wrote in an email to DigBoston, “The City has not ‘blocked’ development on this site, rather it wants nothing more than to see Mr. Cohen come forth with a proposal that will serve the needs of the community. However, for the seven years since his original proposal to slap a big box store into this neighborhood in the form of an Ocean State Job Lot was rejected by Somerville’s independent Planning Board, he has chosen to fight this in court rather than find a solution that would serve both the neighborhood and him well.” As for the community park effort, the city spokesperson added, “We don’t just support the effort, we applaud them for being creative and taking action to improve their neighborhood. As part of the Somerville by Design neighborhood planning process, the community and this neighborhood have invested a substantial amount of time and effort.” After a series of exchanges with the landlord, community members agreed to the terms of the cease and desist order, but are not finished scrapping. “When you don’t [stay engaged],” Moore said, “developers can feel compelled to have an apathetic neighborhood to contribute to, or to contribute their interests to. When you remain quiet, you are left to whatever decisions are made above you or without you.” As an administrator on the Sewall Commons Facebook page wrote soon after the destruction of the park, “We managed to accomplish in 8 weeks what has not [occurred] in the 10 years previously: get the ownership’s attention and begin a dialogue to forging a new and productive relationship that focuses on a new revitalization plan in partnership with the community and the city.” “The fight is not over,” said Jesse Clingan, now the alderman-elect for the area. “We will see something up on Winter Hill. We are not going to give up.” Residents who would like to get involved in Sewall Commons fight can contact the Winter Hill Neighborhood Association at firstname.lastname@example.org
|TARGETED DEPORTATION IN MASS?DigBoston / 33 d. 12 h. 21 min. ago more|
Human rights activist seized by ICE during routine immigration check-in “Free Siham” signs and “I am Siham” chants filled the night air outside of the JFK Federal Building Immigration Court in Boston, where community members spoke about human rights activist Siham Byah, who was recently detained by US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) during a regular check-in on Nov 7. Byah, 40, is a single mother and outspoken political activist from Morocco living in Nahant. She has been involved in large protest movements like Occupy Boston in recent years. On Thursday, more than 100 community members accused ICE of detaining Byah because of her political speech and called on elected leaders to use their influence for her release. They spoke of her hunger strike, which began the same day she was detained. One woman read a statement sent from Siham’s brother, Nizar Byah, which noted, “Siham loves this country. It is why we have both immigrated here. She has always practiced the First Amendment by voicing her opinion of her political views and practiced the right for assembly by attending peaceful rallies.” Byah received a call from an ICE officer on Oct 20, asking her to come in for an appointment. DigBoston was provided a recording of the call and confirmed that the meeting was for a regular immigration check-in in which her current address, fingerprints, and work information would be taken. Byah showed up to the Burlington ICE office on Nov 7 with her partner and her attorney, Matt Cameron. As she was detained, Cameron was told that the decision was not made locally. He said in an interview, “I was told that the decision to detain Siham without warning or opportunity to leave voluntarily came directly from DC, and was not up to the New England Field Office.” When asked about Byah’s arrest, ICE spokesperson Shawn Neudauer told DigBoston that she was arrested on an outstanding final order of deportation issued by an immigration judge in 2012. “Ms. Byah has a criminal record that includes convictions for misdemeanor offenses,” he said. But Cameron told DigBoston that this statement is “a lie.” According to Byah’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) file, she has a single conviction related to motor vehicle usage. Byah was taken into custody by authorities with the intention of deporting her back to Morocco. Byah’s 8-year-old son, Naseem, was in a Nahant elementary school in his third-grade class when she was detained. He is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. Byah has applied for multiple stays of removal from the US since her appeal to the Board of Immigration was denied in 2013, along with a motion to reopen her case. The norm became checking in once a year for multiple stays of removal. At the time of this writing, Byah was being held at the Bristol County House of Correction, and she began a hunger strike soon after being detained. According to her partner, who did not wish to be named, she was temporarily placed in solitary confinement for refusing to eat and had to eat crackers in order to make a phone call to her attorney. He claimed that she has recently undergone weight loss surgery and was denied the right to see a doctor for dietary and medical problems while in solitary confinement. Her partner, who spoke with her on the phone, said, “Byah was given omeprazole, vomited blood [on Thursday].” ICE has not responded to this claim. Cameron filed for an emergency hearing to stop the deportation, but is still awaiting a court date. Byah, a real estate agent, lived in Nahant with her son and moved to the US from Morocco in 1999. She pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at Bunker Hill Community College, and as a local advocate has spoken out against US government support of dictatorships in Morocco. As Byah recounted in a 2012 YouTube video, the Moroccan Secret Service court marshaled her for treason in 2011-2012 and reportedly threatened her for advocating for social and economic justice. Her status as a single outspoken mother has gained disapproval in Morocco, and as a result she is currently applying for political asylum within the US. Byah said in the video, “I was threatened with rape, and that they would rape my two-year-old. This is how low [the Moroccan government is] willing to stoop.” “She is a fierce activist for human rights in Morocco and has received threats from radical Islamists there,” Byah’s partner told DigBoston. “If she goes back, they will torture her.” Beyond her advocacy against human rights abuses in Morocco, Byah spoke out in favor of welcoming Syrian refugees and against Israeli violence in Gaza. Cameron said that Congressman Seth Moulton and the offices of two state senators have been reaching out to DCF to get Naseem placed with a family friend. “They’re hoping it gets expedited,” he told DigBoston. According to the Boston Herald, ICE said arrangements can be made for Byah’s son to accompany his mother to Morocco, a country he has never been to and where his family is in danger, if she is deported. —///— Ed note: The following statement from ICE was received after this article went to print: ICE’s Health Service Corps (IHSC) ensures the provision of necessary medical care services as required by ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards and based on the medical needs of the detainee. Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay. All ICE detainees receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care. ICE does not retaliate in any way against individuals participating in hunger strikes. Consistent with agency policy, if an individual is observed not to have eaten for more than 72 hours will he or she be considered on “hunger strike” and at that point become subject to the agency’s protocols for handling hunger strikes. For those individuals, ICE will institute the hunger strike protocols, which includes close medical supervision. All detainees who are engaged in a hunger strike will continue to be offered three meals daily and provided an adequate supply of drinking water or other beverages.