By Richard Schmitt
In a recent guest column in InCity Times, Harvey Fenigsohn wrote wisely that after eight years of George W. Bush we are entitled to have some fun at the expense of the former president but, more importantly, we need to learn from the failures of the previous administration.
They did a pretty terrible job because from President Bush down many bigwigs in the government were incompetent. But they also did a horrible job because they believed a lot of things which are plainly false.
One of those falsehoods is the dogma that government cannot do anything right and that if you want something to be done properly you need to allow private enterprise to do it. For the Bush people this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They underfunded government agencies; they deregulated whatever they could. On their watch the government was therefore not able to do many of its jobs. Continue reading The government’s work
By Chris Holbein
It’s hard to find a silver lining in a recession. Stocks are plummeting, 401(k) plans are shrinking and businesses are either scaling back or folding. But there is one bright spot: Food magazines have stopped force-feeding their readers recipes featuring foie gras.
Gourmet and Bon Appétit have reportedly forsaken foie gras in favor of more budget-friendly options, and the editor in chief of Food & Wine recently announced that the magazine will no longer feature “recipes that involve loads of foie gras.” That’s a good thing. It’s just a shame that it took a tanking economy—rather than an ethical revolution or even a sense of revulsion—to make some foodies give up diseased duck livers. Continue reading Is there an upside to the capsizing economy?
By Sue Moynagh
On Saturday, April 18, 2009, the City Manager’s “Keep Worcester Clean Team,” in a joint effort with Oak Hill CDC, held a clean up of the Vernon Hill neighborhood. Numerous volunteers from area colleges, Worcester Academy and other sections of the city joined area residents in this effort. People began to gather at the Worcester Senior Center on Providence Street by 8:30 A M. and picked up bags, gloves and T- shirts. Teams were formed and sent out into the Union and Vernon Hill streets and sidewalks, collecting approximately 3, 640 pounds of trash by 11:00 A.M. It was great seeing so many people pitching in to help clean up all the trash that has accumulated over the winter and early spring! Unfortunately, some private lots remain litter- filled, but the Department of Public Works compiled a list of “nuisance properties” that will be dealt with in the near future. Continue reading Clean up time!
By Richard Schmitt
Recently President Barack Obama relaxed the previous restrictions on Cuban-Americans returning to their native land to visit their families. He also eased telephone communications between the two countries. Over the weekend, at the summit of the Organization of American States bringing together all the heads of governments in the hemisphere – except Cuba – President Obama reached out to President Chavez of Venezuela and signaled that he wanted to try for better communication with Cuba.
For more than 50 years, successive US government have been more or less hostile to Cuba. There have been some thaws before, but the embargo on Cuba has been in existence since the early 1960s. US companies have been forbidden to do business in Cuba and in periods of heightened anti-Cuban sentiment, the US also attempted to force European businesses to refrain from doing business in Cuba. Continue reading The US and Cuba
By Harvey Fenigsohn
The majority of Americans now agree that the 43rd president indeed failed, with polls revealing that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history. Bashing the former president is all too simple, but let’s consider what we may learn from his failures, if another George, the eminent philosopher, Santayana, was right when he said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Though numerous failures mar the Bush record, no doubt his worst was the debacle of Iraq. Deceiving the American people and Congress, Bush used his claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction to justify an unprovoked invasion with no exit strategy. At a cost of billions of dollars, Bush managed to establish Iraq as a magnet for terrorists and stain America’s reputation around the world. Continue reading Lessons to learn from the failed presidency of George W. Bush
By Richard Schmitt
In his recent remarks about education President Barack Obama offered support for the idea of paying teachers more if their students had higher scores on standardized tests like the MCAS. Education reformers have recommended merit pay as a method for improving American education for a while now. It seems common-sensical. If you pay your cleaners minimum wage, they will do a minimal cleaning job. Pay them a bit more and they will have some incentive for working harder. Get a cheap yard clean up service and they may cut your grass but not trim the edges carefully. Pay a little more and you may find that your yard looks better.
So why would this idea not work with teachers? Because mowing lawns, cleaning offices or houses is not a job you do because you love mowing lawns or cleaning. You do it for the money. If that is what you do it for, you may well work harder to get more money. But we don’t do everything “for the money.” Other things matter. Few people get married for money; we don’t have kids for money. We don’t have friends for money, or knit or sew or cook good meals for family and friends for money. Some people are fortunate to have work that they love. Yes, they get paid and often would like to get paid more, but since they love their job, they do it as well as they can – even if they do not get paid as much money as they would like. Continue reading Things that money can’t buy
By Ronal Madnick, director, Worcester County Chapter ACLU of Massachusetts
How to start.
1. Who receives a request?
Request must be made to custodian of record desired. Custodian means “the governmental officer or employee who in the normal course of his or her duties has access to or control of public records.” 950 CMR 32:03.
3. Contents of a written request.
a. Description of the records.
“Reasonable description” is required. 950 CMR 32:05(4). Be as specific as possible. Continue reading Procedure for obtaining public records
By Laurence Van Atten
International Animal Rescue has saved its 500th ‘dancing’ bear from the streets of India. The bear has been identified as Chitra, a female. This is a major milestone in its campaign to cut free all the dancing bears and provide them with a safe haven for the rest of their lives. International Animal Rescue believes that 2009 will be the year in which the practice of dancing bears in India is ended for good. Continue reading Charity rescues 500th dancing bear in India