Tag Archives: Happy 20th Anniversary InCity Times/CECELIA/INCITYTIMESWORCESTER.ORG!

The war in Ukraine isn’t just a catastrophe for humans

By Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid is president/founder of PETA. She’s changed the way we all view companion animals, farm animals and wild animals – locally and globally.

Animals don’t wage war, yet they — along with innocent civilians — are often among those most affected by battle. The events unfolding in Ukraine bear this out.

Last month a team from PETA Germany was at the Polish and Romanian borders with Ukraine, helping as many animals as they could to reach safety. That’s where they met a cat named Crimsee. Her worried guardian had tucked the cat under her jacket and carried her on foot more than 37 miles in the bitter cold to escape the war zone. The poor woman was so exhausted that she could barely stand, but now she and Crimsee are safe and receiving support from PETA Germany.

PETA Germany’s team also responded to a call for help about several dogs who were crossing the border with their human guardians and needed urgent care. All involved were debilitated and frightened, but they, too, received the assistance they needed.

In an undertaking fraught with obstacles, PETA Germany has coordinated the delivery of blankets and 44,000 pounds of dog and cat food. Stores in Ukraine are closed, and supplies are almost exhausted, so the group is doing everything in its power to move urgently needed goods into the country to provide relief. With hundreds of thousands of people on the move — many with their beloved animal companions and little else — and with lots of red tape at the border, the task is daunting.

Some refugees don’t even have the comfort of their animal companions, because they were forced to make the heartbreaking choice either to stay in the war zone or to cross the border to safety, leaving their dogs, cats and other animal family members behind to starve or die in some other horrible way. It is wrong, but in war, that’s reality.

At first, health restrictions made it nearly impossible for Ukrainian residents to enter other countries with their animal companions. Unless animals were microchipped or tattooed and vaccinated against rabies, they weren’t allowed to cross the border into the European Union or the United Kingdom. But PETA pleaded for a policy change on humanitarian grounds, and now Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Mexico, Hungary, India and other countries — though still not the U.K. or Germany — have relaxed those requirements. PETA will keep pushing all the holdout countries to allow people to take refuge with their animal companions, who face death if left behind.

Dogs and cats have no political affiliation, and they don’t start wars. They love unconditionally. Humans created this crisis, and we must not turn our backs on animals in the midst of it. If you wish to help animals suffering as a result of war and other disasters, please consider making a gift to PETA’s Global Compassion Fund, which has supported lifesaving rescue work around the world, from the current war in Ukraine and floods in Australia and the devastating earthquake in Mexico in 2017 to the eruption of Taal volcano in the Philippines and the explosion in Beirut in 2020. Animals need all the friends they can get at the best of times.

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Millbury Street – Worcester’s new homeless shelter

Text+photos by Rosalie Tirella

Just drove by Worcester City Hall. Wondering: Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus is leaving us before his contract ends. Why is that? I think this year and the next year and the decade even will be the years Worcester has to grapple with all the stuff Augustus wrought: a gentrified city … a city where locals can’t afford $2,500 monthly rents … A HOMELESS CRISIS ED CAN’T AND WON’T WRAP HIS BRAIN AROUND. The Canal District’s Millbury Street this past month. More homeless camp than business corridor. Heartbreaking.

Millbury Street …






Also: a majority minority city whose leaders refuse to treat as such. All our City Diversity Czars have quit in disgust. Now the usual way of Worcester bringing up the new city manager has changed – now that there’s a Latino guy who may actually head our city. The good old boys way was good enough for former Woo city manager Mike O’Brien and soon to depart Ed Augustus. The city gave lip service to a national search but had their boys already chosen …and groomed. Now with Mr. Batista, a Latino professional who’s worked in the upper echelons of City Hall for a decade and has an impressive city resume, a professional poised to be our next City Manager, everyone cries FOUL. LET’S STOP THIS NOW. Of course, the city leaders are freaking out: a minority city manager? Possibly coupled with a minority Worcester Public Schools superintendent? Coupled with new majority minority school voting districts? This is just too much for the old guard to digest.

But it’s the new Worcester reality. The Woo times, they are a changin’! I, for one, rejoice over these seismic shifts!!!


Was Abraham Lincoln the first animal rights president?

By Jennifer O’Connor

President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most honorable men ever to have served in office. Of course, he’s known for the Emancipation Proclamation and many other lasting decisions, but many may not know of his animal rights leanings — even back in the 1800s.

Young Lincoln’s affinity for animals was likely sparked by a pig who became his constant companion. The boy was just 6 years old when his family acquired a piglet, and the two quickly became best friends. …

Did you know that when he was a little boy, Abraham Lincoln had a pet piglet? photos: PETA

… They played together, roamed the woods, enjoyed games of hide-and-seek and simply delighted in each other’s company.

As he recounted in his own words in Ferdinand C. Iglehart’s anthology The Speaking Oak, Lincoln’s “heart got as heavy as lead” when he overheard his father say he planned to kill the now full-size hog. The young boy slipped out and took the pig to the forest in a desperate attempt to hide him. But he said that he knew “all hope was gone” when he discovered that his angry father had found the pig, returned him to the pen and slaughtered him.

“I saw the hog, dressed, hanging from a pole … and I began to blubber. I could not stand it, and went back into the woods again, where I found some nuts that stayed my appetite till night, when I returned home. They never could get me to take a bit of the meat … it made me sad and sick to even look at it.”

Fast-forward many years. In 1861, King Mongkut of Thailand (then called “Siam”) thought he was being generous when he offered President Abraham Lincoln a pair of elephants who would lead a life of servitude thousands of miles away from their natural homeland.

Ever the diplomat, Lincoln politely declined the king’s offer, stating that the U.S. used steam engines and would have no use for enslaved elephants. “[S]team on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce,” he wrote in his 1862 letter to King Mongkut. Not letting it go at that, the keenly intelligent Lincoln also knew that the climate in the U.S. was unsuitable for elephants, who thrive in a tropical habitat. In an early example of “blaming the weather,” Lincoln told the king that the country “does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant.”

As president, Lincoln turned down two elephants that were offered to him/the United States. He believed our climate would be detrimental to the animals, and he did not want the elephants to live lives of servitude.

Regrettably, many others with far fewer scruples had no such reservations. Just a few years after Lincoln put the kibosh on elephants as gifts, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus launched its mercenary business using elephants and other animals — a deadly tradition that would last nearly 150 years before the circus finally went dark in 2017. Many other circuses also took to exploiting animals and, like Ringling, most have rightfully been relegated to the history books.

Even 150 years ago, Lincoln recognized that animals are individuals with wants and needs entirely independent of humans. In acts both large and small, he made a difference.

Shouldn’t we all strive to be a little more like Lincoln?


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I left out a glass of oat milk for Santa this Christmas (and vegan cookies, too!)

By Heather Moore

Drink and cook with oat, almond or soy milk – vegan milks – so cows don’t suffer on factory farms! Especially good if you’re lactose-intolerant!

I didn’t want coal in my Christmas stocking, so this Christmas I offered Santa vegan milk — never cow’s milk!

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do — to feed their babies. Cows naturally produce only enough milk to meet the needs of their calves, but genetic manipulation and, in some cases, antibiotics and hormones are used to force each cow to make more than 22,000 pounds of milk a year.

On dairy farms, both organic and conventional, female cows are forcibly impregnated every year so that they’ll produce a steady supply of milk for humans. The calves are torn away from their mothers soon after they’re born, which causes both mother and baby extreme distress. Mother cows bellow for their babies for days.


Most male calves end up in barren feedlots, where they’re fattened and then killed for beef — meat from cows on dairy farms makes up about 20% of the U.S. ground beef market. The calves raised for veal are chained up in small crates and fed a formula that’s low in iron so that they’ll become anemic and their flesh will stay pale. They’re sent to slaughter when they’re only 3 to 18 weeks old.

Female calves are treated as milk machines, like their mothers. Some are forced to spend their lives standing on concrete, and others are confined to crowded lots, where they must live amid their own feces. When they’re too sick or worn out to produce much milk — usually when they’re around 4 or 5 years old — they, too, end up at the slaughterhouse, bloodied and dangling by a hind leg with their throats cut.

Even the Grinch wouldn’t support such cruelty to animals!

Most coffee shops offer vegan milks for your java!

Vegan milk is delicious, healthy, humane and environmentally friendly, which is important if you’re dreaming of a green holiday season. University of Oxford researchers found that producing a glass of dairy milk results in about three times more greenhouse-gas emissions than vegan milk and consumes nine times as much land. That land is used for pasture and to grow the animals’ feed, which causes them to belch out massive amounts of methane.

If you want to get on Santa’s “nice” list for next year, take it from me: Drink vegan milk! Cook with it, too! As the researchers pointed out, choosing plant milk over cow’s milk is much better for the planet, not to mention for animals – and you! Happy New Year!


Substitute vegan options for milk, eggs, butter this holiday season!



BY Rosalie Tirella

Late last night – I should say super early this morning – I drove through my old stamping grounds, Green Island, now dubbed “The Canal District.”
pics: R.T.

All the gentrifiers were fast asleep – it was 2 a.m. – but THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE OUT – AND IN A CELEBRATORY MOOD! SCORES AND SCORES OF YOUNG PEOPLE OF COLOR OUT ON MY OLD STREETS. Hispanic kids, Black middle-aged ladies, Black men, Asian-American girls, most exquisitely dressed. Their gatherings were just getting started! On the corner of Harrison and Water streets a hundred or so 20-somethings, all impeccably coiffed, were hanging out in the street and parking lot; the autumn breeze was chilly to me but the kids were just chillin’: laughing, flirting, chatting. I drove into the scene smiling … Down on Millbury Street the old PNI Club was hosting a party with celebrants just heading out to their cars with gift bags. All folks of color. All looking lovely. A wedding party? A birthday bash? As a child my Polish relatives and their friends had held their wedding receptions at this PNI, at the end of our old Eastern European neighborhood, Green Island. The Polish bride was always pretty and wore white like she meant it! The Kielbasa was home made – smoked in a shed in Chicopee by her uncle. The pierogi were plenty and varied made by the chochi and Bapy’s who taste-tested a batch for lunch before bringing down their huge Tupperware containers filled with potato, blueberry, cheese, mushroom and meat pierogi. We danced and danced like the peasants we were – all polkas. And we sang Polish drinking songs, too. “MAY YOU LIVE ONE HUNDRED YEARS!!” It was a scene right out of THE DEER HUNTER.

Rose’s old neighborhood

But last night, looking at the PNI, peering into the door way and seeing the Hispanic crowd all happy and danced-out with their trays of homemade food, I thought: HERE IS A NEW MOVIE. THEIR MOVIE. And I felt great about it.

Over on Harding Street, behind 3Gs sports bar, another group gathered. A bit more raucous than the other two …but I drove through it feeling safe. A hundred or so kids of color. It was their night, not this old lady’s.

The Canal District scene in day light is youngish blond bland girls, isolate, catty and hard. The boys their knights for the day with no fashion sense. This scene is difficult to take because Worcester is a majority-minority city, and there are usually two people of color in this Canal District day scene. You need money to attend most of their parties. They drive up the rents in my old ‘hood, and the old factories all have new windows. Their spacious, high-ceilinged, high-end apartment lofts now, not my Polish grandfather’s – Jaju’s – sweat shop.

I had a weird experience: an old biz pal put me up in his converted CD factory building. Now lofts and stained hardwood floors and painted beams. Beautiful. My pal is living proof of HANDSOME IS AS HANDSOME DOES. He said my plight moved him, so he gave me respite, shelter from the storm. Simple as that – but oh the world to me!! His assistant showed me downstairs: WE HAVE A COURTYARD! she gushed. But as she opened the big glass door and I walked out into this cobble-stoned yard inside the factory with four high brick walls and no ceiling – just a square of sky – all around me – I winced. The building’s five stories high – and windows all lined in a row…heavy doors across the way. It felt like prison. I thought: THIS WAS THE SHOE FACTORY WORKERS’ “BREAK ROOM.” How awful. Jaju had one like this, I bet, in Douglas, at the textile mill he worked at. … A soft-spoken man who never questioned his lot in life, Jaju was stoic, but his son, my uncle, worked a summer off from Holy Cross college with his dad in the Douglas mill and told my mom: IT WAS LIKE WORKING IN HELL.

Old Green Island factories: brandy new for the kiddos!

Newly installed new windows …

The factory in the Canal District was built in the 1860s, pre-union, mostly exploitative piece work, pre-OSHA, too. Hundreds of men – immigrants from Europe like my Jaju – toiled all day in the room I had slept in! And now I stood in what I felt was a perpetually dark space, a controlled space, a trap, not a courtyard. It was where the guys smoked a few of the cigs that their daughters or sons had rolled for them the night before for work. Then it was back to toiling …


By Jim Coughlin

Polar Park on Madison Street, just outside of Kelly Square, on Tuesday, July 2, was the scene of a fundraiser for the family of the late Worcester Police Officer Emanuel “Manny” Familia who tragically died on June 4th after unsuccessfully trying to save a young man from Virginia, Troy Love, from drowning. But he also drowned at Green Hill Park.

The event featured a line-up of some national, New England and Boston comics, along with Cambridge comedian Lenny Clark who served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Todd Angell

The event was billed as “A Night of Comedy for Familia.” Besides Clark, other comedians who performed at the fundraiser were Boston comedian Tony Viveiros whose stage name is “Tony V,”Dave Russo, Frank Santorrellia and Christine Hurley of Plymouth who was introduced to the 2,000 spectators at the event as the “Queen of Comedy.”

Tickets were mostly sold on line for line, starting at $30.

The event was organized by retired Massachusetts State Trooper John Fraioli who is a member of the security staff for the Worcester Red Sox at Polar Park. The fundraiser began with a singer, Todd Angell of Lynnfield, who sings at the opening of hockey games for the Boston Bruins at the TD Center in Boston. He brought the entire crowd to a rousing standing ovation after he completed the National Anthem. Angilly, whose day job is as the Assistant Super indent of Re-entry for Essex County Sheriff Kevin Carpenter in an interview said, “It was an honor to be here to join with the Worcester Police Department who just lost a brother.”

In referring to the police, Angell said, “These are the people who keep us safe.”

Manny Familia’s wife, Jennifer, as well as his 7 year-old daughter and 13 year old son were in attendance at the event. Off duty members of the Worcester Police Department, wearing blue tee shirts with the logo “Comedy Staff” on the back and the police department’s logo on the front served as advance people for the comedians going onto the stage and helped provide security for the event as the comedians came and left the stage.

The range of humor was about ordinary every day things such as marriage, relationships with members of your family, and there were even some comic lines about the legendary traffic problems at Kelly Square.

Those in attendance were a combination of present and former members of the Worcester Police Department and their families. Among those in the audience was a policewoman from the Holden Police Department who only identified herself as “Janet.” She is an 18 year veteran of the Department and said she worked with Manny as a member of the Oakham Police Department prior to his becoming a member of the Worcester Police Department. Janet saluted her fallen brother as “an awesome police officer who always had a joke.”

Also attending was Alex Owen of Worcester who did not know Manny personally, but she said she “has friends who knew him.” She described herself as a 2008 graduate of Holy Name High School in Worcester and called the fallen police officer as “an incredibly nice man, an amazing police officer and an excellent father.”

“People only have nice things to say about him,” she said.

Another attendee was Shawn Grimes of Sterling who said he came because he read the story in the newspaper and friends of his told him they were going to attend the fundraiser, so he decided to come, also. Perhaps the one interview that I had after the event that best summed up the event for the fallen police officer was the one I had with Ralph Capaldi, a resident of Auburn who called the fundraiser, “a great show of love.”

I guess that was what the event at Polar Park was all about, in the final analysis. As a reporter who covered Familia’s wake and funeral Mass at St. John’s Church on June 10, I can personally attest to the greatness and the emotional strength and stamina exhibited by the members of the Worcester Police Department, both individually and collectively, as they came either alone or with their spouses to say goodbye to their fallen comrade who unquestionably was loved very much by his colleagues in the department.

Worcester has had a number of tragedies and traumas over the years: the 1953 tornado, the 1996 Worcester Cold Storage Fire that claimed the lives of six members of the Worcester Fire Department, and there was the tragic death of Worcester Firefighter Jason Menard shortly after that, and of course the latest of these tragedies was the death of Manny Familia. But Worcester is a great city and we, as a community, will overcome the loss of Manny.

The members of the Worcester Police Department need to know that the small minority who unfairly criticize the entire department do NOT speak for the entire community, although they may somehow think that they do. The police need to be called their proper title, and I just don’t mean properly addressing them as “officer” as a simple matter of showing some modicum of respect to them as law enforcement officers. But rather what the Worcester Police need to be recognized for is what they truly are and that is “Blue Angels.” As the singer for the fundraiser very appropriately said about the police, “they are the ones keeping us safe.”

For those whose battle cry is “defund the police, I have one question: when someone is shot in your neighborhood or your home is burglarized, who are you going to call: the critics of the police? I don’t think so.

The pain of the loss of Manny Familia is still fresh in the hearts of the women and men in blue who keep us safe. In the wake of Manny’s tragic death, one wish for our city could be that we be spared any more tragedies like the one that took police Manny Familia from us, far too soon. Undoubtedly, the death of Manny has been a difficult one – not only for his fellow police officers but for the entire City of Worcester. …

Rest in Peace, Blue Angel.

Safeguarding animals and workers in American slaughterhouses: President Biden makes a good start …

Slowing down slaughter speeds is a step forward, but we can do far better!

By Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid has changed the world❤🌎!

President Joe Biden’s recent decision to dismantle a Trump-era program that allowed slaughterhouses to raise slaughter-line speeds should be applauded by all, regardless of politics.

The program — implemented by at least eight slaughterhouses — relies on employees to inspect pig carcasses and perform other tasks as bodies go whizzing by at breakneck speed. It cocks a snoot at anyone who values animal welfare, worker safety or the food supply.

In March, a federal district court ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t thoroughly evaluate the program’s impact on worker safety when it allowed slaughterhouses to eliminate any already-sparse restrictions on line speeds.

When it was first implemented, food inspectors said that pork was “more likely to contain feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders and unwanted hair” as a result of this plan.

Of course, the program also increases animal suffering, as what the animals endure is not even a consideration when workers must slaughter as many animals as possible in the shortest possible time.

Pig slaughterhouses will have until the end of June to reduce line speeds to the previous legal limit, which had already been roundly criticized for being too high: 1,106 pigs per hour or 18 pigs per minute. Not even Superman would be able to examine a body for disease at that rate.

Slaughterhouses are dangerous for both man and beast. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slaughterhouse employees endure about 16 times as many illnesses and injuries as the average American worker. When COVID-19 swept through slaughterhouses, some Tyson Foods supervisors allegedly took bets on how many slaughter workers would get sick.

Biden had already rejected a proposal to increase chicken slaughter line speeds.

Chicken slaughterhouse workers have complained of having to wear diapers because they’ve been denied bathroom breaks, and 60 Minutes described the liquid often seen in the bottom of a package of chicken in the supermarket as “fecal soup.”

Small wonder that USDA inspectors often state that they don’t eat meat. They’ve seen too much to be able to stomach it, and anyone concerned about animals, slaughterhouse employees or food safety would do well to follow their example.

Dismantling the program is a good thing but not a significant sign of progress. Having stood inside several slaughterhouses, I can confirm that they are egregiously cruel. Even after the line speed is reduced, animals will still be hung upside down, scalded and bled to death, sometimes while they’re still conscious, as government reports show. Newborn pigs are often killed before they even reach the slaughterhouse — workers commonly slam their heads into the concrete floor, also known as “thumping.”

Pigs, chickens, cows and other animals experience pain and fear, just as humans do. In nature, they play, explore and love.

Read Ingrid’s book ANIMALKIND with a friend!

They have impressive memories and problem-solving skills. Piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices, and mother pigs “sing” to their piglets while nursing. Chickens talk to their chicks while they’re still inside the shell and in behavioral studies have been shown going to great lengths not only to protect them but also to find places to build nests away from prying human eyes. All animals have personalities and emotions, not just the dogs and cats we have in our homes. It is only a lack of familiarity with them, and an upbringing steeped in speciesism, that leads us to believe that some living beings are meant for the table.

While the previous administration’s inhumane — and unsafe — slaughter program is coming to an end, the suffering that we may find inconvenient to examine closely will continue as long as people choose to eat flesh.

Let’s not return to the way things were — we should move forward and focus on vegan meats and other tasty vegan foods, including Beyond Sausage, tempeh bacon, vegan ham and Gardein Chick’n Strips. There’s no need to wait for politicians to protect animals or human health — PETA will gladly send you a free vegan starter kit. VISIT PETA.ORG