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
By Cha-Cha Connor
The Transfabulous Brunch and Art Auction, a benefit for the Worcester Transgender Emergency Fund held Sunday January 25, was a huge success! Organizers want to thank everyone who attended, our contributing artists, and our hosts, 86 Winter American Bistro on Water Street.
According to founder Jesse Pack, Prevention and Education Director at AIDS Project Worcester, the fund “responds to the needs of transgender people living in Massachusetts by providing immediate, short-term financial assistance to help low-income transgender people with basic human needs.” The hope is that by providing immediate assistance, the fund can help people who are transgender and homeless, while at the same time preventing some transgender people in Central Massachusetts from becoming homeless in the first place. Continue reading The Worcester Transgender Emergency Fund
By Ann Marie Chamberlain
The city of Worcester ordinances related to pet ownership, which may have seemed appropriate at the time they were adopted; need to be adjusted to reflect the current spirit of the citizens they are intended to serve. Pet limiting laws are difficult and expensive to enforce partly because they require enough manpower to check every residence in the city for compliance. This policing of residents costs taxpayers not only the enforcer’s salary but keeps animal control from investigating more significant offenses like abuse or neglect. Limiting pet numbers doesn’t make people more responsible or capable of caring for their pets. In the same neighborhood you can have one household with 8 well cared for pets which even the people next door are virtually ignorant about and one person who has 2 pets that run through the neighborhood disrupting life in general. One of the myths of pet limiting laws is that the laws prevent animal hoarding. Continue reading On limiting pets in Worcester
Vote no on Question 1
By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee member
The State Income Tax Repeal is also known as Massachusetts Question 1. It is an initiated state statute that will appear on the November 4 ballot in our state. Along with the election of a President, Congress and State officials, this question is one of the most important votes that you will make.
As the famous Massachusetts native – Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. stated: “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” If we want the services that many of us take for granted such as police, fire, education, construction of roads, park land and many more then we need to VOTE NO on this question.
Continue reading Help stop this disasterous idea!
By Rosalie Tirella
If this were some cool suburban town filled with aging baby boomers, we might have voted yes on Question 2. If some English professor in this cool town wanted to smoke some weed while listening to his old Pink Floyd lp’s, we might have said: Go ahead, old man! Who’s stopping you? Who really cares? You’re in your living room, relaxing after grading all those boring frosh essays on … Question 2!
Continue reading NO on Question 2