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Massachusetts

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Here’s the story that New England tells itself: Racism is a Southern problem.

But our region’s abolitionist past hides a darker history of racism, slavery and segregation. It’s a legacy that lives with us today. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public/NENC

From suburban Connecticut to rural Maine, demonstrators occupied highways and town greens over the summer with banners and calls for racial justice. 

Updated at 3:56 p.m.

Calling the allegations "serious and deeply concerning," UMass Amherst said Saturday it was investigating whether Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse violated university policy or federal law during his time teaching on campus.

This comes after the Massachusetts Daily Collegian reported that the College Democrats of Massachusetts wrote the mayor a letter accusing him of using his “position of power for romantic or sexual gain.” 

After the death of George Floyd, demonstrators rallied outside police departments, on highways and through downtowns across New England calling for police reforms and racial justice.

Amid these protests, Alicia Thomas, a special education teacher in Springfield, Mass., posted on Facebook about the role of teachers in dismantling racism — and how school administrators could do more to support teachers of color.

Renty – an enslaved man whose photograph was commissioned by Harvard professor Louis Agassiz in 1850.
Courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

Norwich, CT resident Tamara Lanier believes she is the descendant of two enslaved people—Renty and his daughter, Delia. They were photographed in 1850 for Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, as part of his research to advance the racist theory that Africans had different origins from Europeans. Lanier wants those early photographs, and has sued Harvard for “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of them. 

Interstate Railfan / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut paid thousands of dollars to upgrade the old train cars it leased from Massachusetts to revive the Hartford Rail Line. Now Massachusetts wants them back.

The rail service between New Haven and Springfield almost did not launch on time in 2018. Connecticut lacked the cash to buy new rail cars, so the state leased 30-year-old cars from Massachusetts instead.

Third-graders work on a math program in the library at Sanchez Elementary School in Hartford.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

A new report says the majority of U.S. parents want schools that are racially and economically integrated. But in districts where parents have school choice, schools tend to become more segregated.

Alden Bourne / New England Public Radio

There's been a lot of debate about a new study from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on expanded rail service between the eastern and western parts of the state.

The study says the cheapest option would have about 36 daily riders, and the most expensive just over 800. Those figures have been widely criticized by proponents.

Updated at 11:00 p.m.

After more than a year and a half of mediation, the U.S. EPA New England office, General Electric and cities and towns along the Housatonic River have agreed to dispose some toxic PCB sediment at a site near the Lee-Lenox line, about 1,000 feet from the river. But not all participants in the mediated settlement agree with the decision. 

Pixabay

If your smartphone screen cracks, do you get it fixed or trade it in for the latest model? Repairing items can be less wasteful, but there are also growing legal challenges for people whose business is to repair technology from smartphones to tractors.

As Conn. Debates, Mass. Sets New Limits On Toxic PFAS Chemicals

Dec 16, 2019
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has released new draft regulations to limit toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water supplies. The regulations will set the combined limit for six PFAS chemicals at 20 parts per trillion.

In this Thursday, April 27, 2006, file photo, Caroll Spinney, right, who portrays "Sesame Street" characters Oscar The Grouch, left, and Big Bird, arrives for the Daytime Emmy nominee party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.
Reed Saxon / AP Photo

For many, puppeteer Caroll Spinney and his iconic “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch are unforgettable. Longtime Connecticut resident Spinney, who passed away over the weekend, was one of the original cast members on the show and later wrote a book about his experience.

vxla/Flickr

There are some things we claim to know about Thanksgiving and the arrival of the Pilgrims that are correct: the white settlers and Native Americans really did get together, have a feast and play games. But there are many facts we get completely wrong. For one, the Pilgrims were not called Pilgrims when they arrived. And sociologist James Loewen, author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong,” says they were not coming to the Americas for religious freedom.

Drivers will soon be banned from using any hand-held devices, like cellphones, while behind the wheel.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law Monday, bringing Massachusetts in line with the other five New England states with bans in place.

Baker said the law will help significantly to end distracted driving in Massachusetts.

“Operators driving a car should not be holding a phone to text, check social media or email,” he said. “When a driver on an electronic device hits something or someone, that’s not an accident. It’s a crash that was avoidable.”

The MGM Springfield casino reported a bump in gambling revenues in October.

Pixabay

If your smartphone screen cracks, do you get it fixed or trade it in for the latest model? Repairing items can be less wasteful, but there are also growing legal challenges for people whose business is to repair technology from smartphones to tractors.

This hour, we talk about the “Right to Repair” movement. It's a debate that pits concerns about users’ ability to modify their own items against big companies’ concerns about intellectual property rights.

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

This month marks 20 years since General Electric Co. signed an agreement to clean up PCBs the company had dumped in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Updated at 10:31 a.m. on September 30, 2019 

A new report says the construction of MGM Springfield added more than half a billion dollars to the economy of Massachusetts. 

MGM Springfield says it had slightly more than 2,000 employees at the end of June. That's according to the company's latest report to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Steven Senne / Associated Press

Two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, the response to the crisis on the U.S. mainland is only now coming into focus. 

Fall River City Council Hires Boston Law Firm To Enforce Order To Oust Mayor

Sep 19, 2019
Nadine Sebai / The Public's Radio

The city council in Fall River, MA voted Wednesday night to hire a Boston law firm and enforce the temporary removal of its mayor Jasiel Correia. 

Gambling revenue at MGM Springfield was up 2.7% in August from the previous month. That's according to figures released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Monday. But after completing its first year in business, the casino has fallen well below projections.

The Public's Radio

Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested on Friday, less than two weeks before the city’s preliminary election. It’s the mayor’s second arrest in less than a year. And his constituents are divided on how to feel about that. 

The 2011 casino law in Massachusetts required the state to help address problem gambling. About a year after MGM Springfield opened, health leaders say programs are rolling out.

A year after a young man was killed by a shark off Cape Cod — the first such death there in more than 80 years — beach towns full of vacationers are struggling to manage an influx of great whites.

Sharks off the coast have become more common in recent years as the seal population they hunt has increased. Scientists point out that sharks do not target humans, though they can mistake them for prey. But many officials believed the attack was only a matter of time.

Gerard Donnelly / Flickr

Enfield’s police chief said it appears that his officers who pursued a suspect across state lines into Massachusetts were following department protocol.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

This hour, we hear about a months-long investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at local Boys & Girls Clubs.

We also learn about reports of a plan to relocate federal detention hearings from Connecticut to Massachusetts. 

And later we ask: How effective are "red-flag" laws at reducing gun violence in the U.S.? 

Audit: Mass. RMV Saw Conn. Notice About Driver Before Fatal N.H. Crash

Aug 18, 2019
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Almost two months before a Massachusetts man allegedly killed seven people in a crash, a Registry of Motor Vehicles employee opened an alert from Connecticut warning that the driver had refused a chemical test during a traffic stop. 

dom fellowes / flickr creative commons

Shakespeare in the Park starts tonight in New Haven. Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires has a new workshop production of Coriolanus opening next week. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens didn't think Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's works. The BBC has a multi-camera, filmed-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience Shakespeare sitcom.

This hour: lots of little looks at this summer's best Shakespeare stuff.

As the casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, was under construction a few years ago, several local retailers and restaurants said they got a lot of new business. But now — a year after it opened — not so much.

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