508 #251: #blacklivesmatter

posted by Mike on January 24th, 2015

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Julius Jones. We talk about the Pulse’s “Ones to Watch” list, Communities United and #BlackLivesMatter, and the rapidly diminishing ranks of local pro journalists. Also: Follow us on Twitter.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info

Continue reading »

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on January 24th, 2015 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Closing Guantánamo, 2015 edition

posted by Mike on January 11th, 2015

“Vatican pushes US secretary of state on closing Guantánamo”:

As the Obama administration continues to look for ways to shut down the controversial Guantánamo Bay detention center in Cuba, Vatican officials pressed US Secretary of State John Kerry Monday to find “humanitarian solutions” for suspected terrorists.

[…]

[Las Cruces Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace] said that an expedited transfer of detainees out of Guantánamo and the eventual closing of the facility would represent a major step in “allowing the United States to regain its moral standing as a defender of human rights.”

(alternately: US asks for Vatican’s support to shut Guantánamo down)

This week I’ve been in Washington, DC with Witness Against Torture, working on the Close Guantánamo campaign. Closing Guantánamo remains a thorny issue. I’m glad to be here. Some of what we do rubs me the wrong way, but most has been inspiring.

Cliff Sloan: The Path to Closing Guantánamo:

While there have been zigs and zags, we have made great progress. The path to closing Guantánamo during the Obama administration is clear, but it will take intense and sustained action to finish the job. The government must continue and accelerate the transfers of those approved for release. Administrative review of those not approved for transfer must be expedited. The absolute and irrational ban on transfers to the United States for any purpose, including detention and prosecution, must be changed as the population is reduced to a small core of detainees who cannot safely be transferred overseas.

[…]

Cliff Sloan, a lawyer, was the State Department’s special envoy for closing Guantánamo until Dec. 31.

wpid-wp-1421001066516.jpeg

Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the opening of the opening of the Guantánamo prison. There was a demonstration at the White House, with several dozen people in black hoods and orange jumpsuits representing the 59 men at Guantánamo cleared for release by the Bush and Obama administrations but not yet freed. The demonstrators then marched to the Department of Justice, and on to DC Superior Court, as a sign of opposition to the injustices both at Guantánamo and at our domestic prisons.

wpid-wp-1421007669457.jpeg

wpid-wp-1421009672007.jpeg

McCain prepared to help Obama close Guantanamo:

McCain, himself a former prisoner of war, has long favored closing Guantanamo Bay, which critics say stains the reputation of the United States and is a recruiting tool for terrorists. But key players in Congress, including many senior Republicans, have barred funding for the administration to send remaining inmates elsewhere or to build facilities on the U.S. mainland.

posted by Mike in Shut Down Guantanamo | on January 11th, 2015 | Permanent link | No Comments »

The First Day of Christmas

posted by Mike on December 26th, 2014

Many writers have noted that, in terms of national and international news, 2014 was a bad one. (It was a tough year for me, too.) Advent didn’t give us a break. I’d like to think we’re due for a couple good months.

The best way to shorten winter is to prolong Christmas; and the only way to enjoy the sun of April is to be an April Fool.
GK Chesterton

Continue reading »

posted by Mike in Christmas, Itinerant Communicant | on December 26th, 2014 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Worcester Panhandling Update: the New York Times and the Supreme Court

posted by Mike on December 8th, 2014

It’s coming up on 2 years since Worcester passed its latest ordinance against begging.

I didn’t see any kids fundraising for little league over the summer. There still seem to be plenty of scruffy men with signs panhandling cars. I’m hoping we will soon get a report on the overall effects of the law.

The NYT today has a good roundup of the legal situation with the ordinance. The case may end up in front of the US Supreme Court.

A city ordinance enacted last year banned “aggressive begging,” but it used an idiosyncratic definition of what counts as aggressive. It encompasses any begging — including silently asking for spare change with a cup or a sign — as long as it is within 20 feet of a bank, bus stop, pay phone, theater, outdoor cafe or anywhere people are waiting in line.

The Supreme Court has said that asking for money is speech protected by the First Amendment. But in June, the federal appeals court in Boston rejected a challenge to the 20-foot buffer zones, saying they were justified by the unease that panhandling can cause.

A week later, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that had established 35-foot buffer zones around the state’s abortion clinics, including one in Worcester. The court said the law, which banned counseling, protests and other speech near the clinics, violated the First Amendment.

There was a tension between the two decisions, and lawyers for the plaintiffs in the begging case asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling in light of the abortion case. The appeals court turned them down.

I appreciate the paper of record validating that our law is “idiosyncratic.”

posted by Mike in The Street, Worcester | on December 8th, 2014 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #250: So Much Stuff

posted by Mike on October 11th, 2014

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Chris Robarge. We talk about our new permanent City Manager, eight stolen gargoyles, and Jodorowsky.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info

Continue reading »

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on October 11th, 2014 | Permanent link | 1 Comment »

508 #249: Politics and Journalism

posted by Mike on September 14th, 2014

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Noah Bombard of MassLive. We recap this week’s primary election, talk about the state of the Telegram & Gazette and the future of local news, and ask if there’s any non-conspiracy-theory way to understand Worcester’s City Manager search.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on September 14th, 2014 | Permanent link | No Comments »

508 #248: The Presence of Metal

posted by Mike on August 4th, 2014

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, Mike and Brendan talk about crosswalks, internet silliness, and municipal broadband.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info
Continue reading »

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on August 4th, 2014 | Permanent link | 1 Comment »

508 #247: Indian Lake

posted by Mike on July 28th, 2014

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guest is Jim Kersten. This week’s show was taped on a raft floating in Worcester’s Indian Lake. We talk about blue-green algae in the lake, the search for a new head librarian, the American Antiquarian Society and Wormtown Brewery winning national awards, and openings on Worcester’s municipal boards and commissions.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on July 28th, 2014 | Permanent link | 1 Comment »

How’s the T&G doing?

posted by Mike on July 25th, 2014

Last year, tycoon John Henry bought the Worcester Telegram & Gazette from the New York Times in a package deal. This year, Florida-based Halifax Media bought the T&G from him.

Documents leaked during the first sale showed T&G daily circulation at 57,000 and annual revenue at $49M, down 20% over 5 years. As a business, the T&G was fading fast.

Henry bought $70M of properties from the NYT. The T&G’s value was estimated at $7M. Surprisingly, Halifax possibly paid $19M for it. With Halifax in charge, there was a massive round of layoffs. 29 of 80 newsroom staffers left the paper, mostly layoffs with a few resignations.

It’s hard for an outsider to understand the real effect of these layoffs, and the other newsroom layoffs they’ve had in recent years. So let’s see if there’s been a change in the crudest journalistic metric, the number of Worcester stories printed each day.
Continue reading »

posted by Mike in Telegram and Gazette | on July 25th, 2014 | Permanent link | 7 Comments »

508 #246: Wayfinding

posted by Mike on July 21st, 2014

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we walk around downtown Worcester talking about the wayfinding project [pdf], the legal uses of the City Seal, and changes to the Common.

Audio: Download the mp3 or see more formats.

Contact Info
Continue reading »

posted by Mike in 508, Worcester | on July 21st, 2014 | Permanent link | No Comments »