Tag Archives: InCity Times

The U.S. Navy should sink deadly, pointless decompression tests on animals

🇺🇸By Nathan Libby, FC1 (AW), U.S. Navy (Vet.)

Why make him suffer?! art: file photo

Four major universities are squeezing the life out of thousands of animals in cruel, deadly and ineffective decompression sickness and oxygen toxicity experiments bankrolled by more than $3.8 million in taxpayer funding awarded by the U.S. Navy – even though the Navy knows the senseless tests don’t help humans.

Although these tests on animals at Duke University, the University of Maryland/Baltimore, the University of South Florida and the University of San Diego purportedly study the phenomenon called “the bends,” a painful condition that arises from the rapid reduction of ambient pressure leading to the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the bloodstream, their results fail to translate effectively to the condition experienced by humans susceptible to the bends, such as deep-sea divers.

The crude procedures include cutting open rats’ abdomens; embedding a recording device inside them and probing wires along their body through their back, neck and skull; inducing seizures without pain relief; and drilling into their skulls and attaching electrodes to their heads. In some experiments, mice as young as 8 to 12 weeks are confined to a decompression chamber for up to 60 minutes at a time in order to induce air embolism to mimic the bends and are injected with experimental substances. But wait — there’s more.

Mice and rats used in these tests are forced to run on treadmills and are electroshocked if they fail to keep up. Experimenters also insert probes into mice’s rectums, put petroleum-based chemicals into their eyes, drill into their skulls, inject chemicals into their brains and force them into carbon dioxide gas chambers. When experimenters have finished tormenting the animals, they kill them.

Other animals are not viable stand-ins for humans in studies of the bends due to important differences in the species’ anatomy and physiology. Furthermore, human divers experience varying depths, dive durations and individual factors that contribute to the condition, making it challenging to extrapolate reliable data from animal experiments. In fact, a former director of the Navy Medical Research and Development Center, Dr. Wayman W. Cheatham, has admitted as much, stating, “The impact of physiological differences between species with regard to disease processes … is well recognized throughout the medical research community.”

🎖️The Navy can’t rightfully claim to be a world leader in human-relevant medical research as long as it continues tormenting animals in barbaric tests that it knows are irrelevant to human health. These experiments make the Navy an outlier among the navies of our peer nations. The navies of France and the U.K., for instance, have already scrapped their animal testing programs for studying decompression sickness.

There are better ways for the Navy to achieve its goals. Sophisticated in vitro studies and reanalysis of existing human-diver data have already yielded promising results that are directly applicable to humans in diving conditions. Machine-learning techniques may aid in the prediction of symptoms such as seizures during hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Computational modeling can improve the performance of dive computers in order to equip divers to avoid the bends.

Last year, the Navy terminated its funding of decompression experiments conducted on sheep at the University of Wisconsin/Madison up to two years ahead of schedule after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro a complaint.

Tormenting and killing animals doesn’t advance human health, but advanced non-animal, human-relevant research methods do. It’s high time for the Navy to sink its pointless decompression sickness and oxygen toxicity tests on animals.

☮️🕊️A path to peace: embrace vegan living on the International Day of Peace!🐄

By Rebecca Libauskas

Yes, you can “de-calf” your coffee! art: PETA

In elementary school, we performed a well-known song with the refrain “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” I loved the message. But I’ve never understood why our society doesn’t apply this concept to all species.

Every day, we have multiple opportunities to choose nonviolence and extend peace to all sentient beings — and one of the simplest ways to do so is to opt for delicious and healthy vegan foods instead of meat, eggs and dairy. By refusing to take anything that rightfully belongs to animals, we walk a path of peace that benefits everyone. So, for the International Day of Peace (September 21), let there be peace on Earth — and let it begin with vegan living.

Everyone deserves peace. Yet we’re conditioned to treat some species with care and others with indifference — or violence. Pigs, chickens, cows, fish and other animals who are used for food experience pain, happiness, distress and misery, just as our beloved animal companions do. Yet they’re abused in ways that would be illegal if dogs or cats were the victims. Pigs, for instance, may be conscious and feel pain when they’re scalded with hot water during slaughter and when they’re piglets, their tails are cut off without pain killers.

East Fork Farms, Indiana, investigation…

In slaughterhouses, there’s no peace for animals or for the people who work there. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration data, severe accidents are common and human body parts are severed every week. Reports also reveal a distressing lack of concern for workers’ well-being, including when they’re forced to work despite being sick or injured. These and other serious problems reveal the need for systemic change, including a shift to vegan food production.

Going vegan not only spares animals fear, violence and death but also helps the Earth. In a world ravaged by the climate catastrophe, it’s hard to feel peaceful. A recent American Psychiatric Association survey revealed that 67% of Americans are experiencing some degree of climate-related anxiety. The best thing anyone can do to help save the planet is to reduce the demand for animal-based foods by going vegan. A recent comprehensive study by the University of Oxford revealed that by eating vegan, individuals decrease their food-related climate-heating emissions by 75% and reduce their contribution to the destruction of wildlife by 66%.

Eating less meat helps the planet.

Research shows that choosing healthy vegan foods also reduces the risk of chronic diseases that can ravage our bodies and minds, which can be overwhelming and anything but peaceful. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, compared with meat-eaters, vegans enjoy a reduced risk of dying from heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Its findings conclude that nutritionally complete vegan meals are beneficial in preventing and treating specific diseases. Going vegan empowers us to take charge of our health while advocating for a better world.

When we stop inflicting violence on animals, peace follows. We know this innately: A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science shows that young children are less likely to view animals on a farm as “something” to eat. Only after age 11 do they start thinking of animals as food. What if we were to resurrect our natural wisdom and empathy? We can.

For many of us, going vegan starts a ripple effect of compassion and peace that extends beyond our plates. Our view of animals changes: We no longer find excuses for using them in painful, deadly experiments. We think about the suffering and death behind wearing leather, wool, or feathers. We’re heartbroken, not amused, when we see animals confined and exploited for entertainment — including Lolita, the orca who recently died after more than 50 miserable years of confinement. We realize that animals are not commodities and have a natural right to the freedom to do what is natural and important to them.


We sow the seeds of compassion, justice and peace by going vegan. So on this International Day of Peace — and every day — let peace begin with what we put on our plates.

🇺🇸☑️The 2024 Presidential Race🇺🇸🗳️

By Jim Coughlin

Jim.🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 photo submitted.

Well, As I see it, it looks like next year’s presidential election will be a rematch between incumbent United States president Joseph R. Biden and former President Donald John Trump. There is a saying, “history repeats itself” and we, as a nation, should set our sails and get ready for this rocky election campaign to begin.

It has been approximately 70 years since the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956. They both featured President Dwight David Eisenhower, “Ike” as the Republican nominee and Adlai Stevenson, the then governor of Illinois as the Democratic nominee.

In both elections, Eisenhower handily defeated Stevenson.

In 1952, Eisenhower won 55.2 % of the popular vote to Stevenson’s 44.3 l %. In the electoral college, Eisenower won 442 to Stevenson’s 89, only managing to win 9 states, all of which were in the southern United States. Interestingly enough, Stevenson DID NOT even win his home state of Illinois in either election. In 1952, Stevenson won the southern states of West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to capture 89 electoral votes.

I am told by a friend who is an avid political researcher and historian that the reason why Stevenson won those southern states is because his Vice Presidential running mate was an avowed segregationist.

In 1956, the results were similar in that Stevenson almost duplicated the states he won four years earlier, with the exceptions being that he lost both West Virginia and Louisiana. In the popular vote, Eisenhower won 57.4% to Stevensin’s 42.0%, and captured 41 electoral votes.

But next year’s election will not be anywhere close to the 1952 and 1956 elections. It could end up being the closest presidential election ever, even closer than the elections of 2000 that featured former president George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, (involving Florida), and the one in 2004 between President George W. and Massachusetts’s own John F. Kerry, then a United States Senator, (involving Ohio.)

Unfortunately, it will be all about the great divide that we, as Americans and as a nation are currently experiencing between Democrats and Republicans, and between the backers of Biden and Trump. It does not have to be this way. But as history is our judge, our politics has in recent years got very combative and, indeed, extremely personal. Sady, today having a difference of opinion on which candidate one is supporting for president has been known to strain many friendships and relationships.

I believe that we, as Americans, can do better than that.We should learn to talk to each other and respect each other, and if I may invoke the age old adage of “to agree to disagree” and to above all respect the other person’s opinion, without taking offense at their differing opinions.

The best way to accomplish this is to begin to talk with people with whom we politically disagree. And to do it, respectfully. That is to listen to others, and their different views from our own, and to then see where common ground can be reached.

This is not an impossible task.

The national polls all indicate that this election will, indeed, be a cliffhanger between Biden and Trump. A recent poll that came out in the New York Times after the former president’s recent indictment by the United States District Court for the District of Washington, D.C. had both Biden and Trump at 43%.

However, this poll did not indicate the electoral college breakdown which at this stage is impossible to either predict or even speculate.

On the Republican side, there are about 14 candidates seeking the nomination, with only two of them, former Governors Chris Christy of New Jersey and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas being Trump critics. The remaining candidates all occupy the camp of those being either supportive of Trump, or are afraid to criticize him, while at the same time they are all wanting you to vote for them, instead.

Quite frankly, I can’t figure out that particular political reasoning.

Hutchinson, for his part in the wake of the recent Trump indictments has called upon him to end his candidacy, while Christie has been extremely critical of the former president, mostly for his poor judgement, especially in the area of good government issues and political transparency.

Together, Hutchinson and Christy along with another candidate, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd are Trump’s very well deserved opposition within the ranks of the Republican Presidential candidates.

Another candidate that is somewhat of a Trump critic is Trump’s former Vice President, Mike Pence who figured prominently in the attempted initial certification of the presidential vote by the United States Congress on January 6th, and the subsequent insurrection that occurred at the United States Capitol Building.

To his everlasting credit, Pence was a true leader that day when he refused to go along with Trump’s demand to have him as the Vice President block the certification by the Congress of the individual state’s votes for president. The proponents of this measure within Congress wanted to send some electoral votes back to the individual state legislatures what they called a “recertification of the votes.” If this was done, it would have undoubtedly resulted in the presidential election ultimately being decided by the United States House of Representatives.

In this process, according to the constitution, each state’s congressional delegation would have only one vote in selecting the next president of the United States, and NOT having the people of the United States decide who would be elected president of the United States.

This would have been EXTREMELY UNDEMOCRATIC for our republic. Thank goodness that this did NOT happen.

Pence has not registered too well in recent polling for the Republican nomination, mostly at about 3%. At this stage, it is not entirely certain whether Pence will be allowed on the debate stage on August 23rd with the other candidates because he needs to have an increase in two areas in order to qualify: campaign donations and better poll numbers. However, if he reaches those two postulates, this could be his moment to shine and publicly criticize Trump for what he has previously criticized him for, namely his concoction regarding the attempt to block the vote certifying the election of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th President of the United States on January 6, 2021.

If Christy gets to debate on August 23rd, he will undoubtedly add an especially good flair to the debate because he is especially well suited to challenge Trump on good government issues on which Trump is especially vulnerable given his past political performance in this particular area. He will be especially good at doing so because he can easily employ his very well developed lawyer skills as the former United States Attorney (for the District of New Jersey) in fighting it out with the former president.

One Republican candidate who may eventually become a strong contender for the nomination is South Carolina United States Senator Tim Scott who has been rising in recent public opinion polls. He could be a very strong candidate especially in the Iowa Caucuses that is historically known for its large number of Evangelical voters attending their party caucuses.

An issue that will surely surface within the Republican primaries is the question of Trump’s legitimacy as a candidate and whether the twice impeached, and three times indicted former president should be the Republican standard bearer to go against President Biden in November.

There is also the possibility that the former president may soon be indicted by the Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia for his well known effort in urging the Georgia Secretary of State (in a taped telephone conversation) to help him “find 11,780 more votes” which Trump said “was one more than he needed” in order to win the state.

It will be interesting to watch these issues eventually work themselves out in preparing for the Republican presidential nomination.

So, stay tuned and let the race to the GOP presidential nomination begin.

💕🍂Saying goodbye to Jett🐾🍂❤️🍁

By Rosalie Tirella

Jett!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️CECELIA file photo.

Got my autumn/holiday haircut at the Spencer Rob Roy yesterday. K.C, the hair stylist there, is so good, easy going and efficient – for a half hour he took my mind off my dying Jett and how much I love my best dog and how much I will miss him when he’s gone.

Jett struggles to walk our teeny neighborhood walk these days. His bouncy gait has disappeared, replaced by baby steps, faltering and tentative. He seems disinterested in his surroundings – even his favorite fire hydrant, the red one, outside our building. I look at him and coo “Jett Jett Jett, read the doggy news!” but there’s no reaction from my boy. Jett is looking past me. And he was the one dog who was always looking at me…for me … after me. Mesmerized by Rose! The apple of his eye! Looking to his Rose for everything. So happy for the guidance! Elated to just be with his Rose, giver of fresh cheddar cheese cubes, cool clear water daily, bumpy rides in her jalopy to the dog park, half-hour walks in Quinsigamond Village, in the rain, during snow squalls, dappled in sunlight. The snowflakes stuck on Jett’s curly cue tail, the rain drops beaded off that thick husky coat. The little rub downs and hugs, afterwards, courtesy of Rose. The love made visible thru play, movement and touch …

Now I think, Jett, that you hurt when I try to get close, to snuggle, to hug …or sometimes even to stroke you. Your delicate old back, a little crooked in the middle. To touch with too much love hurts you now!

Funny, Jett, you’ve still got your robust appetite and you are super alert whenever the treats come out! But other than that, there’s not much else that excites you. Not a romp with Lilac in the grass here. Or even a hug from me, your Rose! You sleep a lot …

One pain pill – your first – as I was so hesitant to start you on the regimen because you’re so sensitive – made you, my bonny boy, very sick. You vomited in the middle of the night and, during my 3 a.m. trip to the bathroom, I “found” your puke – slid on it and went sliding under my kitchen table/desk. Amazing: so much furniture with pointy corners and I missed it all. Just luged under that table, half asleep, too snoozy to try to brace myself in any way. Which was a good thing. I was thinking of you. Worried about you. Lying on that floor for a minute or two, my hair and body covered in your puke, I was broken hearted for you. A big clean-up followed. Plus, taking you and Lilac out to pee in the wee hours of the morning – AFTER a shower, of course. We always try to look presentable whenever we’re out…cute dogs and fairly cute mistress. Part of the scenery. In Worcester. Now in Spencer. Later that morning, washing my vomity night shirt etc. I felt … so sad and lost. Without Jett. A new feeling.

Later that day I made an appointment to euthanize you on Friday. I don’t think you’ll want to go gently into that good night. But it’s for the best. This time we have to stick to the plan! I told my friend. This is too much! My boy has lost his bounce! My handsome Jett looks bedraggled … He is so restless. I think he’s suffering. His restless walks around the apartment … All signs pointing to the end.

Jett, today with Lilac, still savoring those treats!

Why, my beloved Jett, are you leaving me after just 17 1/2 years together? I could continue our conversation, old woman to husky, husky to old woman, for another 17 years! In the winter! During spring! Especially during spring time when the buds are just out and the flowers are hiding and the forsythia branches are climbing the fence at the dog park! Look, Jett, the geese have taken flight and I can see their oval, hard bellies and their long hard legs and webbed feet right above our heads as they work and work so hard to get home. Lilac has followed these athletes and run to the lake after them and you’ve run after Lilac! You’re so silly, Jett!

I already miss you, my Jett. I miss your delicate white paws. In my dreams I see their boney outlines, their clean whiteness. I see your blue eye and your brown eye, so exotic. People always remarked… I see your coyote fur, rough to the touch, a real protectant: the rain always beaded off your coat, the snowflakes stayed stuck there in their hexagon beauty. Each snowflake like no other. Jett, like no other husky or husky mix.

Jett after rolling in the snow.

I remember so many of our jaunts to all our Worcester County dog parks and along Blackstone River Road, Jett … It’s as if you’re already left me, even though you’re right here, snoozing on your mat by my feet as I write this and listen to Neil Young. I’m bawling as I look at the photos in my cell phone, hundreds of them, taken of you and Lilac frolicking in all kinds of weather. I can see your smile, Jett, easy, relaxed, jaw open, smallish teeth. I’m already craving all that Jett energy that always energized me thru the years, your mistress, your devoted owner and friend. Where will I be without your joie de vivre, Jett?! Every minute of the day? It was so contagious! It always lifted my spirits!

There we were, for 17 months, homeless! Me driving my old jalopy thru the streets of Worcester depressed, trying to get to our forever home, trying to figure things out and filling out hundreds of forms and rental applications. Lilac sad, muted, as she is curled up in a ball in the corner of the car’s back seat, waiting to get … home, to have a big bed to leap onto and my bed pillow to grab onto with her big teeth …to shake the stuffing out, just for sport. For FUN. But not you, Jett! Standing tall in the back seat, facing the world, your little flag tail is curled in the morning air and you look so pretty as you poke your little snout out of the rolled down car window to joyfully sniff the new morning air. You tilt your handsome little lupine head to the sky and just love that the sun is out again and it’s shining on you. On us!! You can’t wait for that ride to McDonald’s for that breakfast biscuit with scrambled eggs – you love your scrambled eggs at 6 a.m. Then to the Millbury dog park where you and Lilac will run and run in the pale morning light and the morning dew will soak your paws. I’ll pray and read a magazine and sip my McDonald’s coffee and eat my yogurt. Watching you and Lilac and sitting on that dog park bench in the beautiful country makes me … ecstatic! I am so happy watching you and Lilac play!

An old homeless lady with her two mutts trying to find their new home, trying to get home, trying to still run her newspaper and exercise her dogs in all kinds of green spaces and … wow! I’m having fun!!

Now, looking back, I see I was already home: I was with my Jett and Lilac in the cup of God’s hands.

Two winters ago: Jett and Lilac frolicking in Worcester City Councilor Candy Carlson’s big front yard! Candy was so wonderful to Jett and Lilac when we were homeless – a true friend to the fur babies! We will never forget all the kind things Candy did for Jett and Lilac! All photos: R.T.

Lilac and Jett at the dog park. CECELIA file photo.

🐝A Plea for Bees🐝🌸🐝

By Melissa Rae Sanger

Bee kind! art: PETA

My fascination with bees began in a rather peculiar way: by adopting a dog named QB from our local animal shelter. We went from calling him QB to just B, and my children embellished his new nickname by indulging me with all things bee: bee T-shirts, bee pictures, bee keychains – you name it, I have it. What started as a sweet tribute to our dog became a newfound inspiration.

I decided to become a backyard beekeeper. I read books, frequented meetings and watched documentaries. I let wildflowers take over my gardens. My father built me the most beautiful hive. I was getting closer to my goal of welcoming bees — until one event altered my perception of “beekeeping” forever. September may be National Honey Month, but as I would soon learn, taking honey from bees is anything but sweet.

Filled with excitement, I attended my first hands-on honeybee workshop. I delighted in the sweet banana-like aroma in the air (which I later learned was an alarm pheromone bees emit when they feel threatened), harmonized with the gentle buzzing and felt the vibrations from thousands of tiny, delicate wings as I held a live frame for the first time. I was, without exaggeration, moved to tears.

But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

With the nonchalance of a server refilling a water glass, the instructor filled a mason jar with rubbing alcohol. I watched in horror as she quickly scooped what she estimated to be about 300 bees into a measuring cup and dumped them into the jar filled with the toxic liquid. Once she secured the lid, she began vigorously shaking the jar, passing it to the closest student for a go. I could hear the desperate bees inside, their buzzing growing softer with each shake.

After everyone (except me) had taken a turn, she poured the discolored liquid into a tub and flung the dead bees onto the grass, explaining that she was getting a “mite count.” Varroa mites commonly afflict bees, and although I knew that we would be learning about treatment options during this workshop, I had no idea that we’d also be getting an education in beekeeping’s dark side.

I mustered the courage to raise my hand. “Would the number of mites affect the course of treatment?” I asked. Her answer? “No.” Whether the alcohol wash revealed a mite count of one or one thousand, the treatment would stay the same. I asked if there was a humane way to determine a mite count. Her answer? “Yes.”

My gentle fascination turned to rage.

Why should these sentient beings be treated with such extreme disregard and cruelty? Bees demonstrate self-awareness, recognize human (and possibly bee) faces, process short- and long-term memories while sleeping and perhaps even dream. They can feel anxious, optimistic, fearful and frustrated—just like us. Yet bees who are factory-farmed for honey (even when the “factory farm” is in someone’s backyard) are exploited and killed, as if their suffering were of no consequence.

Beekeepers crush drones to death to extract their sperm, then immobilize the queen in a tiny gas chamber so they can artificially inseminate her. And they routinely clip her wings to prevent swarming (a colony’s natural means of reproducing), holding her hostage in her own home. All so we can pillage their honey.

The psychological stress inflicted on bees by the honey industry is a significant contributor to colony collapse disorder, which has caused a sharp decline in bee populations over the past decade. Simply put, humans’ greed is stressing bees, and it’s killing them.

Bees have as much of a right to live free from pain and suffering as we do. Unless we stop seeing them as a collective and start respecting them as individuals, their populations will continue to deteriorate. One of the simplest ways to help them is to stop stealing their honey and enjoy agave nectar, rice syrup or maple syrup instead.

As for me, I’ve decided to forgo beekeeping and spend my time spreading awareness of the plight of these precious pollinators. Bees need all the friends they can get.

James Stewart Gets his Gun🎥🍿🎬

By Rosalie Tirella

A cowboy movie to enjoy! photos: R.T.

Good news for this Western aficionado: James Stewart made some terrific Westerns with director Anthony Mann in the 1950s! I recently learned this celluloid factoid. So right now I’m watching Mann’s “Winchester ’73.” It’s a fast paced, entertaining flick starring Stewart and Shelley Winters. But there’s a passel of supporting actors who are also excellent, each one adding another brush stroke to this painting of American greed, violence, true love and our incessant need to keep moving.

So much is going on here. Mostly, we’re enthralled by Stewart, playing “Lin,” an on-fire kinda guy maniacally searching for the thug who beat him up and stole his beautiful, brandy new Winchester ’73 rifle he won at a Fourth of July marksmanship contest in Dodge. Hell bent on finding the thief – and killing him – Stewart and his sidekick pal scour the plains looking for the thief – without catching their breath, without stopping for a good meal even. The rifle has a life all its own: it’s lost by the thief, stolen by a sly gunslinger. Then an Indian (a very young Rock Hudson wearing a big, ridiculous fake beak nose) kills for the Winchester ’73 after the gunslinger tries to sell him crap weapons for his tribe. Then Rock loses the rifle to the U.S. Calvary. Then it’s gifted to the cowardly boyfriend of Shelley Winters (Lola). Lola’s beau is a real loser. Chased by Indians while driving their wagon to their forever home, he stops short, jumps on the horse tied to the back of their cart and gallops off, leaving poor Lola all alone in that wagon. She yells after him. He gallops on. The Indians move in … in clouds of dust and war paint. I so love Winters in this role! She’s the feisty brassy blonde dance hall girl who keeps on insisting she just plays the piano! So down to earth! There’s such real warmth in her smile, and it’s sweet when she kisses the older Calvary officer on his wizened cheek after he saves her from the Indians. He was hoping for a little more …

Shelley Winters shines in this movie!

It must be noted here: Mann’s depiction of Native Americans is deplorable. In his film they are portrayed as stupid, money-grubbing losers with weird, self-defeating religious beliefs. From the ridiculously made up Rock Hudson as a war chief to the lost soul Indian townie at the centennial celebration in Dodge, you feel ashamed – and angry with Mann and Stewart who was supposed to be a very nice guy, bravely serving as a fighter pilot in World War II. My late pal Tony Hmura was a bomber in Stewart’s US Air Force squadron. Stewart was beloved by his men, including Tony, and was a true American hero!

But I digress. Ostensibly, it’s the fancy, repeater rifle, the rife that “Won the West” – a firearm model owned by Buffalo Bill and President Ulysses Grant alike – that sets Lin on his wild odyssey. But it’s more than that, as we learn bit by bit during the film what’s really driving this guy. The real reason is fully and finally revealed at the very end of the movie.

I read that Mann and Stewart ushered in a new kind of Western when they made Winchester ’73 – a cowboy movie with more emotionally complex cowboys. After Mann and Stewart, the Western hero wasn’t always wearing the white hat. Sometimes he was both good and bad. Sometimes his motives were fuzzy – or just plain wrongheaded. Sometimes he was vindictive for the maddest reasons. Sometimes he killed without giving killing a second thought. Still, he was the film’s “hero.” In 1950 it was Mann and Stewart. A few years later it would be John Ford and John Wayne making my favorite movie of all time, THE SEARCHERS, an American masterpiece. You can’t find a darker, more tormented, more emotionally isolated, more messed up “hero” than Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. But you’re with him every step of the convoluted way, thru snowstorms, bison massacres, horrific trips to Indian reservations. A warped American Western hero, Ethan Edwards, but you can’t let go.

Back to the film I’m watching: Reunited with her cowardly boyfriend but now in love with James Stewart, who plays her love interest with a sexy grace, Shelley Winters finds herself holed up in her future home with a bunch of rough necks whose leader draws her boyfriend into a fight and easily shoots him dead. Some fake blood pours out of the gun shot wound, another first for Westerns – the bloodshed, the real consequences, after the trigger is pulled. Now Shelley’s his girlfriend, he decides. She basically calls him weird to his face: “You’re a strange person!” This is before the authorities set the place on fire. Wyatt Earp is the marshall, and he’s wise and charming, even while setting the house ablaze.

The prize?

All the while the Winchester ’73 passes from thug to killer back to thug then to killer, a mute witness to man’s insanity. When the crazy boyfriend meets up with his compadres in a cabin in the sage brush, he’s got Shelley Winters (Lola) and the prized Winchester ’73 with him. But the original thief is there and claims it’s his rifle. He couldn’t care less about the pretty girl! Crazy guy gives him the Winchester ’73 telling Lola he’ll kill him for the rifle later on … eventually.

Stewart shows real menace in this movie. You wouldn’t think so because he’s got that nice face and wonderful drawl … When he enters a room, Lola says: “Well, hello, nice people.” Yes, Stewart is the epitome of niceness. But he’s crazed and vicious at times in this film. And believable in his neuroticism.

The final shootout is in the middle of a bank heist with Shelley Winters jumping in to protect two little kids. She gets shot. Holding the wounded saloon gal, Lin’s pal tells her Lin is chasing “Dutch Henry” – the original thug who stole the rifle from Lin – because he’s his half-brother and he killed their father. Shot him in the back.

The final scenes are kind of Biblical… brother shooting at brother, talking back and forth to each other as their bullets ricochet off the boulders in the middle of the desert at dusk. Dutch’s real name is Matthew. Lin scolds his brother Matthew for wasting bullets. Their father always taught them to never waste firepower. “Save your lead” Lin tells Matthew.

I’ll give the ending away: Stewart gets the girl – and his Winchester ’73. But we all know Shelley Winters is a way better prize than some dopey ol’ rifle!


By Rosalie Tirella

Rose’s Hartford case manager “brief case” – still with her today, only it’s the ICT/CECELIA brief case she’s been toting to her advertisers for 22+ years!

Life’s not always what you expect it to be. When my late mom lived in a seniors apartment complex in Worcester – happily, for 20+ years – I’d visit her and see this elderly couple walking the grounds. They were in their 80s. The husband leading the pair, walking deliberately with his cane, wearing a knit vest over his button-down shirt. His little wife, with her dark skirt down to her ankles, followed him – old-country subservient. They made a lovely Hallmark card-ready pair in the sunsets …

How wonderful! I used to say to myself. Husband and wife still together, still taking walks together in the mornings, at dusk. Later, when they disappeared from the complex, I found out that the old man had been beating his wife with his cane. The cane he took their walks with …

My friend and her husband live on the West Side of Worcester. Pretty neighborhood. Middle-class folks living in their own pretty Worcester homes. So it surprised me when she said: The nice old couple across the street. She went into a nursing home. Later he died. When family came to clean out their house, they found scores and scores of guns under the old people’s bed.

Not one gun. Not two or three but like 100. … Incongruent with their neighborhood image.

Another example: Worcester is just catching up to Boston and Hartford – cities with a racially diverse political class. On our city council and school committee – now we see brown faces and white faces. Black and brown city councilors and people of color on our school committee. A good thing: They make us see city issues from new, important perspectives. The forgotten are less forgotten. The racial prejudice in the city is taken down a notch or two.

Or is it? Will it be?

When I lived in Hartford, a Black city pretty much in the 1990s, the city council was all minority. Good people of color trying to lead one of the poorest cities in America. Their public schools were in state receivership. The only relatively safe neighborhood in the city, Forest Park, where I lived, was still plagued with shootings – and murders (one happened a few buildings down from my apartment complex). Professional Black middle class folks – teachers, social workers etc – followed the lead of white folks and left the city once they became successful. Many Black professionals moved to East Hartford, the cute town next door.

With all these compelling challenges, it was heartbreaking – and shocking – to read in the local newspaper during election season: Hartford political candidates mud slinging over the SHADES OF THEIR BLACKNESS. One political candidate of color – the one with the darker skin tone – was in the papers complaining that the political opponent with the lighter skin tone (also a person of color) was being racist. The lighter skinned candidate was being negative against this candidate’s darker skin tone, his shade of blackness.

Wow. I had never heard of this in Worcester. Mostly because our politicians were white. White Irish Catholic to be more specific. So, here Worcester is 30 years later and the white Irish ruling class is having to “adjust.” But to what??? Will we eventually, sooner rather than later, be reading stories like the Hartford one in our local rags?

Fast-forward to me working in a major Hartford socal service agency. All my fellow case managers – about 60 or so – are black and brown. Terrific, caring professionals, many with MSWs. I’m the only white city case manager there – maybe there are two more white cases managers. Maybe.

When we case managers did home visits in the projects we paired up. I am still wiping the tears away after the day we visited a home and the mom, beautiful but man-crazy, was in bed with her hunky beau and he answered the door in his briefs. Looking up towards the ceiling we told him we were making our scheduled home visit. He huffed and let us in their barren apartment. The young woman came out, confused looking, hair in post coital muss. She had forgotten about our visit. At the kitchen table I watched the cockroaches run all over her kitchen stove top. I turned away to look at her sweet little boy. He was three years old. The most beautiful boy I had ever seen!

Hi! I said, smiling.

He smiled back at me and was too cute, leading me to their refrigerator. He opened their refrigerator door – empty except for two little juice boxes. He took one of his little juice boxes and handed it to me. The perfect little host! Such a generous, good boy! I took the juice box, sat on one of the cubes of foam in the living room and thanked him. I pulled off the little plastic straw the juice box came with, stuck it in the hole and began sipping my snack. Of course, tears were streaming down my cheeks as I drank my juice.

Later, I was appalled when my fellow case manager, a terrific African American gal, young, with her MSW and her beautiful work outfits and her advocacy for all parents. I was shocked to hear her say: She’s a good mom!

I wouldn’t have written up the report her way at all! But the child seemed happy. He didn’t look malnourished, even though he probably was. They were a very young couple and maybe needed to be taught …

But I deferred to my colleague because I was white and didn’t want to be called racist.

Another family: this one headed by the grandmother, toothless, scrawny…a black woman from down South. The daughter of a share cropper. She couldn’t read or write. She could only sign her name … Yet, she was very gracious when we knocked on her door and made our home visit. Sitting at the kitchen table, we all talked. Her little grandson was running about, happy and cheerful. In the bedroom I saw his mom – just a kid – in bed, her head tilted against the head-board. She was a heroin addict and had just shot up. Most likely her son, the little boy, had seen her do this.

After the visit, in the car, driving away, I said to “Joan”: We have to pull that child out of that home! His mother is a junkie!

Joan looked at me and smiling shook her head no. She said: Grandma runs that house. She’d never let any harm come to that little boy. He’s her baby!

But the mother’s a heroin addict! I screamed.

Joan shook her head no. The grandmother kept everyone fed, clothed. Didn’t the little boy come to class every day? Dressed? Clean? Happy? We would be breaking up a family if we had the boy removed.

It would be racist. It would be culturally insensitive.

Yep. I knew I was licked. I stopped arguing. Took my concerns to our boss, the head social worker. She agreed with Joan.

I was being insensitive … maybe even racist.

So, Worcester, as we become a majority-minority city, things will become more equitable.

But they won’t always make sense.

🎬🎥🍿Luis’ movie reviews – always in style!🎟️

Barbie Movie Review

By Luis Sanchez


The entire world is talking about this movie, and for good reason. Greta Gerwig has directed this film and written it alongside her husband Noah Baumbach. It stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, as they go on an adventure of self-discovery. Other notable cast members include America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Will Ferrell and Simu Liu. The film has humor, emotion and many references to the real Barbie toys, but behind all the glitter and pink stands a story about patriarchy and feminism.

Not talking about feminism in Barbie is like not talking about fish in an aquarium. What I enjoyed the most about this movie is how it tackled and embraced its themes without hiding them. Direct and upfront, the movie makes sure we all understand where it is and where it is heading.
It begins as a comedic fantasy film, but as it unravels it becomes a serious and emotional narrative and slowly rips away from the bright lights and dancing. It takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride where one moment we are laughing but the next the whole theater stands in silence. Barbie does a great job with its cinematic storytelling and continues to show the brilliance of Greta Gerwig.

The soundtrack in of itself deserves recognition. There are a few movies I have watched and decided to listen to the soundtrack on the ride back home, and this is one of the few. Usually a song is made by a well-known artist for a movie just for the marketing, and it struggles to truly fit into the movie at the moment that it is played. In this case, there is something about Barbie that makes the songs feel like one of the characters in the film. It embodies the emotions the viewers feel and the thoughts the characters are thinking. Typically the soundtrack takes a backseat ride in movies, but in Barbie it is riding in the passenger seat.

Every actor in this film seemed to have a lot of fun playing his/her role. Margot Robbie as Barbie is an amazing casting selection, as she effectively pushes the movie and its themes forward, both on and off the screen. Ryan Gosling as Ken was also a standout, and it is known that Greta Gerwig wrote the role of Ken for Gosling. Simu Liu and others carried their own weight and effectively made the movie as enjoyable, as it was emotional.

To end, I do want to mention that there are some jokes in this film that will go over some kids’ heads, and that is totally fine! The movie does great with appealing to an older audience through its script. Overall, Barbie sends this message to the viewers: YOU ARE ENOUGH. I rate this movie a solid 9/10 and recommend that you go watch it with all your family and friends in theaters!

🙂Parents! For your consideration as we start the new school year!📚🎒

By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former WSC member

It’s back to school! Downtown Spencer, this morning: mom and son Yohan wait for the bus. photos: Rose T.

Yes, it’s back to school time! It’s time for parents to motivate their children to make the switch from vacation to school time.

Parents are the key to a successful school year!

Remember, research continues to say that no matter what the parents’ income or background was, students with involved parents continue to earn higher grades, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior and successfully graduate and go on to higher education.

As a former teacher and principal, I can attest to that statement, for I have seen it happen. Parents can make a huge difference by encouraging their children to talk about their school day and listen to their thoughts about their school.

Remember, talking to your children about school sends a message that you value their education, and the discussions provide an opportunity for children to use the language they are learning in school.

Listen, I know firsthand that parenting is a difficult job, but it’s a rewarding job, too! So let’s look at some common sense approaches you can follow as you start the new school year with your children:

First, set up priorities such as bedtime for sleep is the center of a healthy lifestyle, and it will get your child off to a good start at school.

According to research, parents need to keep a bedtime routine during school time. An idea: an hour before bedtime put away all electronic devices and help children wind down. Use that last hour for reading before turning off the lights.

Staying with wellness, it is also important that your child eats a healthy diet. Remember, wellness and academics go hand in hand. Eating fruits and vegetables and getting in the proper amount of physical exercise is essential.

Moving on to reinforcement of learning:

Parents need to develop good management skills at home such as homework time, helping kids with their backpacks before turning in and placing their backpacks near the outside door.

Another management skill for parents: retrieve backpacks as soon as children come home and get those papers out! Sign those permission slips and add appointments on to the family calendar.

ROUTINES can be a powerful force in keeping everyone on the same page. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast, if your child eats breakfast at home. Also, set the rules for cell phone use, computers and watching television during the school week.

Moving on to homework … Please consider these strategies:

As stated, make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Try to avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions.
Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper and pencils are available.

Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
Help your child with time management.

Lilac! You can’t go to school with Yohan!

Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

Be positive about homework.
Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
Stay informed.

Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.

Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
Reward progress in homework.
If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

In addition, parents also need to make every effort to meet their child’s teacher early in the school year. Teachers are always very excited about meeting their new students and the new parents. It is always best to make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher to introduce yourself and let them know you are there to support your child’s learning!

Taking time to meet and introduce yourself and your child to the school principal is also a way to let your child know other adults at the school are there to help them. These are especially good ideas to use if your child has special needs or if the family may be going through difficult times such as divorce, an illness or death of a family member, or a recent or pending move.

Another idea worth mentioning is … DO JOIN THE SCHOOL’S PARENT GROUP! You want to be informed!

These are just a handful of ideas that I would share with my parents when I was a teacher and principal. Try them out!

Best wishes for a great school year, and should you need any help/advice feel free to contact me at monfredoj@gmail.com.

Let’s all remember that “school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” Remember, parents, you are essential to your child’s success! Stay positive and never give up!

🍿🎬FROM LUIS:🎥A Movie Review!🙂🎟️

By Luis Sanchez


Luis Sanchez. photo submitted

It has been approximately 20 minutes since I left the movie theater, and I am still speechless as to what I have just witnessed. This is what cinema was made for. Before I begin, I would like to clarify that there is an abundance of things to cover for this film, but I am unable to touch upon all of them in order to provide a general and open review of the movie as a whole.

Oppenheimer is a biographical film based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it follows Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer as he takes part in the Manhattan Project and contributes heavily to the production of the first atomic bomb. It stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss. With its cast alone the film gathers a lot of attention and is able to effectively convey to the viewer a complex plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

The film actually carries two stories: the creation of the atomic bomb and Strauss’ Senate confirmation hearing as Secretary of Commerce. Overall, I believe that both plots worked well together and actually complemented each other. In the beginning it felt as if both stories were on opposite ends, and I grew worried as to whether it would pay out in the end; however, the film does well on making them meet in the middle.

This movie takes the viewer on an educational ride where you will grow confused at times, but being patient will pay it all off. For the first hour or so of the film (it has a runtime of three hours) I was extremely overwhelmed. The film flipped back and forth between both stories which, as I mentioned before, felt as if they were on opposite ends. In addition, the film would flip back and forth rapidly. I believe there is not a singular “scene” in the first hour of the film that lasts for more than five minutes. The same goes for dialogue: the most two characters exchanged back and forth was perhaps for 10 lines, and the scene would once again change. Nevertheless, I believe this was done on purpose to provide more of an emphasis on the climax of both stories, when we see the scenes begin to last longer and the conversations slow down. Although, I still believe that some scenes could have been cut out to make the movie shorter. Taking those scenes out wouldn’t have made the movie better, but it would have allowed me to come home earlier.

There is also an intelligent play of visuals that further builds tension for the climax of the bomb. If the viewer pays close attention she may be able to catch a few references to theoretical physics in these visuals. Another thing to praise Christopher Nolan for is his minimal use of computer generated imagery (CGI) which helps keep the viewer grounded and feel more “inside” the story of Oppenheimer.

The audio effects of this movie deserve applause. We live in a time where a movie goes beyond what we see but rather what we feel. The more senses appealed, the greater the emotion evoked. I find it insane as to how I could simply close my eyes and only listen to this film yet still be able to feel what Oppenheimer was showcasing. There is great timing and contrast between the loud and the quiet. There is so much more to say but it is difficult to describe through words. The contrast, the parallels, the story. Sometimes the audio was more meaningful to me through what it did – not the voices. The audio was impactful at the right moments, sometimes lifting me off my seat more than any horror movie I’ve ever seen!

In the end, Oppenheimer is a masterpiece. I already want to go see it again, and I am most definitely reading the book before the summer ends.

I rate this movie 9.6/10 which is the highest I have ever rated a movie in my time writing movie reviews for CECELIA. A round of applause for Christopher Nolan! I would not be surprised if this film was nominated for an Oscar. I recommend you go and watch it in the movie theaters because that’s how it is meant to be experienced.

Remember, theory will only take you so far.