Category Archives: Uncategorized

Make this a wool-free winter

By Paula Moore

Time to bundle up. A blast of Arctic air recently wreaked havoc on much of the country, with some areas experiencing record low temperatures, white-out highway conditions and snowfall measured in feet. Old Man Winter has arrived early this year, and he’s packing a punch.

But don’t let the polar chill put your compassion in a deep freeze. You can show a little kindness to animals and still stay warm this winter simply by choosing fur- and wool-free coats and accessories.

You probably already know why wearing real fur is coldhearted. From birth until death, animals on fur farms—where most fur comes from—live in abject misery. When eyewitnesses toured fur farms in Europe, they found animals with untreated, oozing wounds and broken or malformed limbs. Dead animals infested with maggots were left to rot among the living. Many animals circled frantically in their cages, driven insane from the confinement. When most people think about the fur industry, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the animals’ terrifying slaughter. Few people consider that they suffer from neglect, loneliness and a mind-numbing lack of stimulation day in and day out, usually for months and sometimes for years on end, before that final moment arrives.

But wool, too, should be off-limits for caring consumers, and here’s why: PETA’s international exposé of the wool industry revealed that docile sheep are punched in the face, slammed into the floor, kicked and even killed by impatient shearers, all just to produce wool sweaters and coats.

PETA investigated the wool industry in the U.S. and in Australia—the world’s largest exporter of wool—and found workers violently punching scared sheep, stomping and standing on the animals’ heads and necks and beating and jabbing them in the face with sharp electric clippers. One shearer, who twisted sheep’s necks and limbs to restrain them, twisted and bent one sheep’s neck repeatedly until it finally broke, nonchalantly remarking, “I might have killed it.”

Because shearers work so quickly, many sheep also have large swaths of skin cut off during shearing, and most sheep are cut—some severely—on their abdomen, hindquarters and limbs. When this happens, workers use a needle and thread to stitch up the most gaping wounds—without any painkillers and in the same unsterile environment in which the sheep were shorn.

Simply put, buying wool means supporting an industry that leaves gentle sheep battered and bloody.

Down also has a dark side: It often comes from birds who are plucked alive. Rushed workers yank fistfuls of feathers out of the birds’ delicate skin, and some are plucked so hard that their skin is torn open, leaving them with gaping wounds.

Wearing animal skins is not even the best way to beat the chill. You can bet that mountain climbers, skiers and other sporty types who head outdoors when temperatures drop are not wearing mink or wool coats to fend off the winter wind. Synthetics are both warmer and lighter than animal skins. They’re also more durable, and unlike fur and wool, they can be tossed into the washing machine when they get dirty.

No amount of fluff can hide the fact that animals suffer immensely in the fashion industry. This winter, choose animal-friendly vegan coats, sweaters, scarves and gloves to stay warm and toasty without buying into cruelty.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for the PETA Foundation.

In South Worcester: Bringing fresh produce, whole grain goodness to our public schools

January 13

The 3rd Massachusetts Farm to Cafeteria Conference

…at Holy Cross college

CLICK HERE to register!

This conferences will bring together more than 300 diverse stakeholders from across the farm to cafeteria movement who are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster innovative food and agriculture learning opportunities in our state.

The conference is just over one month away.

Register and reserve your spot today!

Learn and Connect

We are finalizing the conference program and are very excited by the diverse group of leaders in the farm to cafeteria field who will be sharing their expertise with conference attendees.

Here’s a sampling from the more than 20 workshops:

Funding Farm to School

Farm to School with Locally Frozen Vegetables

Farm to Preschool Initiatives

Cooking Demonstrations for K-12 and College Food Services

Using Policy Advocacy to Increase Farm to School in Massachusetts

Getting Started in the School Garden

Farm Based Education – Urban and Rural Farm Field Trips

And so much more…

We are also very excited to announce the first ever Farm to Cafeteria Regional Networking Sessions to take place during the conference. Connect with others in your community who are involved in farm to cafeteria activities. Learn from their best practices, share your own tips, and move forward together!

We will be holding a concurrent Buyer Tradeshow and Networking Session for Farmers and Distributors.

This will be a great opportunity to make direct connections with farmers from your region and discuss local sourcing with distributors.


Registration is filling up quickly and we have a limit of 350 attendees. Register online today (ABOVE) to secure your spot. Discounts are available for students and conference presenters.

Please contact us for more information:

Massachusetts Farm to School

34 Main Street, Suite 10

Amherst, MA 01002

Great holiday family event this weekend! Teach your kids – and yourself! – that it’s not about the getting but the giving …

… that makes Christmas … Christmas! Check out the …

Heifer International Living Gift Market

This Saturday and Sunday -December 6 and 7

10 a.m. – 4 p.m

at Heifer International

216 Wachusett St., Rutland

Get out to the country this weekend! Experience the peace of nature that feels like TRUE Christmas!

Ditch the crowds, the gift-grabbing yahoos … the avarice and head to Heifer International for their holiday event!

What a great way to teach kids about other cultures, other kids around the world … yes, there’s the poverty, but there’s more … open their eyes!

You know how this vegetarian feels about killing animals, but you can make your donation go toward buying cows/animals that are milked. Usually, on these tiny family farms, the animals are cared for, considered so very important because the families’ survival depends on them!

And, at this special holiday market, you also get to:

See and buy FAIR TRADE gifts from around the world!

Drink hot cocoa and cider!

Munch gingerbread animal cookies!

Get toasty warm around a cool bonfire!


A donation of a couple of cans of soup, beans, vegetables, etc. for poor families.

To learn more, go to

- R. Tirella

This weekend! Watch artists make their art!


December 5 – 7

Head on down to the Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow Street (off Lincoln Street) to be wowed by artists and their art!

Sure, you, I and anybody with a pretty good eye can get artsy-craft-sy, cute/pretty and make stuff, but here’s your chance to buy real art by real artists this holiday season! I love going to “Open Studios” because you can WATCH the artists make their bowls or vases … ask them about the technical stuff ( How many degrees is it in that kiln?! How hot before you fire your stuff??), etc. You don’t have to buy to have a good time and learn!  A whole different world …

So check out the …

Fire Works Studio Holiday Open Studio and Sale!

Meet the artists!

Watch them do their art!

Talk with them about their art!

Buy their art – one-of-a-kind holiday gifts!

Friday, Dec. 5, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 6. 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

To learn more, CLICK HERE.

 – R. Tirella

Don’t Cry for Darren Wilson

By Gordon T. Davis

Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, and the grand jury of St. Louis County, Missouri, presented to District Attorney McCullough a No True Bill, no indictment. Mr. Wilson showed no remorse or regret in his TV interview. The finding of the grand jury did not come as a surprise, as almost no police officer has been indicted for any action, no matter how bad, while he was on duty.

What came as a surprise is that Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department a few days after the No True Bill.

His resignation is somewhat puzzling.  When the police officers in Worcester killed Cristino Hernandez in 1993 they did not resign, nor were they fired, despite the Inquest Judge ruling that the Worcester Police used “excessive force.”

Today Ferguson is seventy percent Black and the Ferguson Police Department is ninety four percent White.  In 1993 Worcester was seventy percent White and the Worcester Police Department was at least seventy percent White, if not a higher percentage.  In Worcester the opposition to the police homicide of Cristino Hernandez was divided, with many people saying that the Worcester police killing him was not a racist act.  That division does not exist in Ferguson today among the protesters; there is some division regarding the destruction of property.

It is a common occurrence that when people make serious mistakes, they are fired or forced to resign. We have seen this in Massachusetts at the Department of Children and Families and in the Department of Public Safety. Even the supervisors are forced out. When the police make a mistake and accidentally (unjustifiably) kill children, the least that should happen is that the officer resigns.

Darren Wilson has resigned. Some people may feel sorry for him because he says he cannot continue his work in law enforcement . However, it is likely he could find a job anywhere in law enforcement in which the population is not majority-minority.

It is unlikely he will be charged with violating Michael Brown’s civil rights. There is going to be a civil trial for wrongful death, brought by Michael Brown’s parents. In order to be successful, the parents will have to name the City of Ferguson as a defendant. This means that the City will cover Mr. Wilson’s court costs.

Mr. Wilson will have an opportunity to write his book about how unjust the system treated him. The right wing might ask him to go on speaking tours about the need for law and order. Mr. Wilson will do alright for himself. He is no victim. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the late Michael Brown.

To ban or not to ban

By Edith Morgan

Is there anyone still left who does not know about the health risks of smoking cigarettes? The dangers of nicotine addiction? The danger to children breathing in second-hand smoke and the risk of fire from discarded cigarette butts?

I am assuming that, amid all the test-taking practice in our schools, our students are still yearly warned about, and informed of, the risks in smoking. So our young should be properly informed and hopefully convinced that smoking is not only not cool, but stupid, dangerous, and unhealthy.

It is always a temptation to ban things, to restrict their use, to try to keep the addicts away from their various fixes – and to make their use illegal, with stiff penalties , fines, and jail. And how well has that worked, and how well is it working. And how well will it work in the future?

If our children were getting a good dose of history, they would all know how disastrous our experiment with Prohibition turned out: Not only did it not reduce the amount of alcohol/drunkenness, but it made criminals of many people, and created powerful and rich crime syndicates. Ordinary citizens were making “hooch” in their bathtubs, and addicts were driven to crime and prostitution to pay for their illegal drinks.

We have had the same experience with other drugs – legal or illegal – and new ones are added to the list continuously. Our world is full of natural and artificial substances which are mind-altering and/or addictive , at least for some people. And addicts will always be driven to find more such substances – in the woods, the fields, from their doctors, from their friends – anywhere.

Every so often I ask, out of  the blue, of anyone I meet “If heroin (or whatever drug is in the news at the moment) were available everywhere at a nickel a bag, how much would you buy?” The answer is always NONE. We all can purchase so many things, and don’t do so. But most of us are not addicts, and are not attracted to drugs, no matter what the price.  But true addictive persons are a different story, and the price is irrelevant: they will pay whatever it costs, to get their hands on their fix of choice.

From so many years of experience as a school teacher, I have noticed that some children are at risk of becoming addicts: they form habits quickly, which may be an advantage in some areas, but which makes addiction much easier.

If we could identify those students, as early as first grade, or even Kindergarten, and warn them, watch them, and teach them how to resist, I believe we would be well on the way to reducing our number of active addicts.

We will never be fully free of addictive persons – but at least we can give them the weapons to resist and make better choices. It beats punitive measures, which have shown time and again that they do not reduce the number of addicts in the population, but are so very costly.

From the U.S. Navy … Marlboro native promoted …


Rear Admiral Daniel J. MacDonnell




In a combined retirement and change of command ceremony, Rear Adm. David (“Gordon”) Russell ended a 30+ year career as the first commander of the Navy’s Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Reserve Command, giving the helm to Rear Adm. Daniel MacDonnell in a ceremony overseen by the chief of the Navy reserve, Vice Adm. Robin Braun.

More than 175 people attended the Nov. 15 event, held in a hangar just outside the IDC Reserve Command headquarters on Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Tex.

Russell, a Colorado native, was instrumental in helping bring the information-related communities of intelligence, information warfare, meteorology/oceanography, information professional and the space cadre together under the IDC umbrella, forming what the Navy calls a Type Command or “TYCOM,” focusing on manning, training and equipping the Sailors and their commands that rely on information skills and capabilities.

The IDC Reserve Command comprises more than 10 percent of the Navy’s entire reserve component – nearly 6800 people, spread out among 124 separate units, administered through six IDC regional commands.

The incoming commander, Rear Adm. Dan MacDonnell, had been serving as the reserve deputy commander of the U.S. 10th Fleet.  Unlike Russell who spent much of his career in the intelligence community, the Boston-based MacDonnell (hometown,  Marlboro) is designated an information warfare officer – formerly known as a cryptologist.

The Navy is promoting Information Dominance as its newest warfighting pillar, citing the importance of both information systems and Sailors trained in information-related skill sets as key to achieving dominance in the information domain.


“Why Being There Matters”

On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.

Thank you very much for your support of the men and women in U.S. Navy, deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.