Tag Archives: InCity Times

Interest group politics, justice and democracy

By Richard Schmitt

With Congress in session again the pressure is on to complete the health care overhaul bill. As we come into the home stretch, the lobbyists will be out in full force once more. Here is what some of the largest lobbyists spent before Christmas 2009: the big drug manufacturers – $6.2 million dollars; the American Medical Association – $4 million; different insurance companies spent $1 or $2 million each. The total is unclear, but it apparently set a record for health care lobbying. Some estimates speak of lobbyists spending $1.4 million per day. Just think of how much health care that sort of money could buy.

The outcome is predictable: there are some winners and some losers. On the whole, the people who spend money lobbying are the winners and the rest of us who don’t have money to lobby are bound to be the losers. Private insurance companies will continue to make money off all of us; the big pharmaceutical companies will continue to get bigger and fatter; the poor, the working people, and the middle class will continue to pay too much for often not adequate care. Continue reading Interest group politics, justice and democracy

Depressing sight! Shame on FHC Executive Director Frances Anthes!

By Rosalie Tirella

With all the pols and papers in town congratulating themselves on how well Worcester is feeding its poor, I did not think I would see this telling little sight:

Today, in the early afternoon, at the Family Health Center on Queen Street, there’s a young Latino woman. She is bundled up against the cold in a short jacket. She is wearing sneakers. She comes up to the secretary in the doctors’ suite and says this: I was told I could apply for Food Stamps here.

She was told this by the un-sympathetic secretary: No, you can’t do that here any more. We lost the grant that pays the person to take your application. You have to go to the Department of Transitional Assistance now.

FUCKING PATHETIC! You want something to work on Mayor Joe O’Brien? Here it is! Project #1.

Here we are in the middle of Piedmont, with poor people just trying to stay abreast of heating bills, rent, etc, and Family Health Center which is, on the whole, responsible for the health of  Worcester’s poor, can’t help a poor person put food on the table for herself (and I’m guessing) her kids. FHC can’t help a poor person stay healthy. Continue reading Depressing sight! Shame on FHC Executive Director Frances Anthes!

The free-market way to save the planet?

By Richard Schmitt

A few weeks ago 192 nations met in Copenhagen, Denmark for a world climate summit. The task: to come to some international agreements for all nations to reduce their CO2 emissions. Failure to do so will raise the temperature around the globe, melt the ice caps at either poles, cause serious droughts over large areas which will bring with them famines due to food shortages. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere is a health hazard producing more children and adults suffering from asthma. The world is facing a series of major problems. Something needs to be done.

It is clear what that is: we need to reduce the amount of a number of gases—CO2 is only one of them–released into the atmosphere. This needs to be done by regulating emissions of factories, refineries, automobiles, airplanes, as well as land fills, stockyards and chicken hatcheries. We need to produce less of these noxious gases by reducing the activities that produce them. That is clear, very simple, but obviously very difficult to do. Continue reading The free-market way to save the planet?

Will things really change with Mayor Joe O’Brien at the helm? (he also heads our school committee)

By Rosalie Tirella

After reading all the pieces on Joe O’Brien’s inauguration day festivities (I wasn’t invited to the ball and InCity Times was emailed no public announcement about it to post in the paper so our readers could attend – unlike two years ago, when Konnie Lukes became mayor and I got ALL the info and a beautiful invitation to boot), I ask: Will things really change in Worcester with Joe at the helm? Will O’Brien really be any different from a pol who rewards his pals and punishes anyone who doesn’t agree with him? More important: Will things really change/improve in the Worcester Public Schools now that Mayor O’Brien says he wants to make the WPS system the best urban school system in America?

Actions speak louder than words, my momma always told me. This is what I have to go on so far: Continue reading Will things really change with Mayor Joe O’Brien at the helm? (he also heads our school committee)

Saving the planet one meal at a time

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Last week, I addressed a “green” conference on economic sustainability in Mumbai, India. The talk, other than the argument about whether we could survive in a room without air conditioning, was mostly about how much shucking and jiving the U.S. had done in Copenhagen, all in an effort not to commit to anything terribly serious regarding changes that nations must make to combat climate change. The Indians felt pretty good about their nation’s commitments, particularly to cut emissions and to fund energy projects such as those using biofuel from plants. Activists returning from Denmark, with precious little to show from the conference except truncheon bruises, were united in the idea that if people want to make change happen, we have to do it ourselves and pass on what we know to others.

It shouldn’t be news anymore that the most important thing that we can do for the planet is not to use less holiday gift wrap — it is to go vegan. That’s because it is impossible to be a meat-eating, milk-drinking environmentalist. Meat and milk are not “green,” which makes it all the more shocking that our government Continue reading Saving the planet one meal at a time

What were they thinking?

By Richard Schmitt

In his recent speech Pres. Obama announced that he will increase US forces in Afghanistan by close to 50%. He justified that decision by reminding us that in 2001 “Al Quaeda’s base of operations was in Afghanistan.” To be sure, but has he not heard that the Al Quaeda leadership has long since decamped to Pakistan? There are about 100 Al Quaeda left and we are increasing our military to 100,000 men and women in order to keep them from launching more terrorist attacks. 1000 Allied soldiers for every Al Quaeda? They must be supermen, to be sure.

It makes no sense. Continue reading What were they thinking?

Fifty movie quotations for our times

editor’s note: If you picked up InCity Times’ holiday issue, you may have begun reading Steve Sandberg’s piece on page 2 – only to have it end after a few movie quotes. Here are the rest of them:

By Steve Sandberg

Much thanks to the Internet Movie Database for perfecting my memory of these pithy comments. Strange how they have a relevance far beyond the silver screen.

The world of politics…..

On the Republican mentality:
“Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.”
– Humphrey Bogart, THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE (1948)

On the Democratic mentality:
“You just want to persuade people that you love ’em so much that they ought to love you back.”
– Jed Leland (Joseph Cotton) to Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), CITIZEN KANE (1941)

On gridlock in Washington:
“Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I want to know.”
“What can they do? They’re only people, just like us.”
“People my foot – They’re Democrats!”
– Breakfast table discourse between John Brown and Olan Soule, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)

On war in Southwest Asia:
“Don’t you know there’s a war on – somewhere?”
– Richard Gaines, ACE IN THE HOLE (1951)

“Big head, big ball. Small head, small ball. That Bashki man. Oh big damn head.”
– Saeed Jaffrey, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1975)

And why Donald Rumsfeld stayed in his job so long:
“We do not and cannot accept the principle that incompetence justifies dismissal.”
– Oblivious union shop steward Peter Sellers, I’M ALL RIGHT JACK (1959)

What liberals think about universal health care:
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow, bluebirds fly…. There’s a land that I heard of, once in a lullabye.”
– Judy Garland, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

What conservatives think about universal health care:
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
– Clark Gable, GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

And the GOP embraces President Obama in a spirit of bipartisanship:
“I wanna speak to the man in charge!”
“Mr. Lacombe is the highest authority.”
“He’s not even an American!”
– Richard Dreyfuss and Bob Balaban, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977)

On the Massachusetts state legislature:
“We have to protect our phony-baloney jobs here, gentlemen!”
– Mel Brooks, BLAZING SADDLES (1973) Continue reading Fifty movie quotations for our times

Jellyfish invasion a sign of trouble to come

By Paula Moore

World leaders who attended the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen probably didn’t discuss the invasion of the jellyfish, but perhaps they should have. While it might sound like the stuff of a B horror movie, millions of jellyfish—some the size of refrigerators—are swarming coastlines from Spain to New York and Japan to Hawaii. Last month, these marauders sank a 10-ton fishing trawler off the coast of Japan after the boat’s crew tried to haul in a net containing dozens of huge Nomura jellyfish—giants who can weigh up to 450 pounds each.

The best way to fight this growing menace is with our forks.

Scientists believe that a combination of climate change, pollution and overfishing is causing the boom in jellyfish populations. Leaving animals, including fish, off our dinner plates will combat all three problems. Continue reading Jellyfish invasion a sign of trouble to come

The Montvale District’s “Histrionic” tennis court (or: Sometimes I just wanna box some ears)

By Rosalie Tirella

Sometimes it’s embarassing to live in Worcester. To see so many poor kids and adults wrapped in sweatshirts in the dead of winter, getting off and on our city buses … finessing the Worcester city snirt (snow mixed with dirt) … and then to have to tune into last night’s Worcester City Council meeting to watch and listen to the snobs of our Montvale Historic District throw a hissy fit over a crumby (unused) tennis court.

To have to listen to some West Side matron practically breakdown in tears as she stood up for the downtrodden folks of the Montvale Historic District! Oh, it is not easy to live in the wealthiest, most exclusive neighborhood in Worcester! she told the city council. To live in a historic district with other professionals and upper income folks who wear lovely coats and drive BMWs and never have to worry about riding our city buses means sacrafice! A historic district takes its toll on a person! A historic district can be so constricting! 

The Montvale matron gave some examples of the chaos that threatens to destroy the very soul of the Montvale Historic District: a neighbor of hers has put flower boxes on her windows! Another neighbor had the temerity to errect a little tool shed on a hill in his yard! She can see it from her home! Mon Dieu! Cover your eyes, my fair lady! (actually quite ugly – not half as attractive as the lovely Latinas who finnese Worcester snirt.) But there was more! The Montvale matron said she too has sinned! Why just this past election season, she had the gall to stick a couple of candidate lawn signs in her yard! How garish! Continue reading The Montvale District’s “Histrionic” tennis court (or: Sometimes I just wanna box some ears)

No ‘crocodile tears’ for tanking skins trade

By Paula Moore

According to a recent USA Today article, the global economic downturn has taken a bite out of America’s alligator industry. With the sharp slump in sales of so-called “luxury” goods such as alligator bags and belts, fashion houses worldwide are placing fewer orders for exotic skins—and some American alligator farms are in danger of going belly-up as a result.

Let me be the first to say, “Good riddance.”

Alligators are bludgeoned with hammers and steel bars so that their skins can be turned into overpriced accessories. Snakes and lizards are skinned alive and left to die in agony. The routine cruelty in the exotic skins trade should make any caring consumer’s skin crawl, and the sooner this industry dies off, the better. Continue reading No ‘crocodile tears’ for tanking skins trade