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The Globe Critique
The globe is great in its coverage for the Boston reader, which is its primary focus.
It’s Metro section in particular covers everything from what’s going on the higher education world, to the court house, and the current conditions of Boston public schools.
The sports section, which is a very a important section for a Boston residents, is always updating live stories, and constantly updating the minute by minute chronicles of the cities major athletes.
The only two negatives on the globe I saw were it’s constant displaying of gruesome imagery, and it not covering national or global news as well as say New York Times or the Washington post.
The Commuter Rail is Delayed again.
Last week saw commuter rail delays again for Boston, and the blame is being put on new defects in the MBTA’s multimillion dollar investment into new locomotives.
In the last 12 days, around 10 percent of rush hour trains ran late, and on Tuesday, only 76 percent of the trains were actually on time.
Mechanical problems causing delays for commuter rail riders is far from a new concept. The MBTA has been plagued with mechanical issues for over the last two years, with the worst being during the winter of 2015.
The Boston based subsidiary of a French oriented company called Keolis is responsible for the new locomotives being used, as they were awarded a 2.7 billion dollar contract by the MBTA in 2014.
Even with all the defects in these new Locomotives produced by Keolis, MBTA spokesman Joe Peseturo claims that the MBTA still believes that this long term investment with the French company will pay off, and that the new locomotives are still performing far better than the previous ones.
However, many MBTA riders are starting to get frustrated with the delays, including Inessa Teter, a woman who has been riding the Stoughton line for fifteen years, and she said the MBTA is the worst she’s ever seen it.
“It’s a disaster,” Teter said. “It’s really crazy what’s going on with the trains. There are fewer cars, trains are full of people, and there aren’t enough conductors.”
Written By: Matthew Allen. Date: 04/07/17
Distracted Driving is causing a national Increase in Pedestrian Deaths.
Preliminary data gathered by state highway safety offices across the board are showing a national increase in pedestrian deaths caused by distracted driving.
A report released last Thursday by Massachusetts Highway Safety office illustrated that there has been an 11% spike in distracted driving related deaths in 2016, and this trend is taking place all throughout New England.
The first half of 2016 saw 38 pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts, which is up from 35 during the same stretch in 2015.
When comparing the increase in pedestrian fatalities during these two stretches of 2015 and 2016, Connecticut saw 28 pedestrian deaths, which is up from the 21 that took place in 2015, Rhodes Island had 7 instead of the 2 they had in 2015, Vermont had 4 as opposed to the 0 they had in 2015, New Hampshire had 8 instead of the 2 they had in 2015, and Maine stayed the same, only having 5 in both 2015 and 2016.
As illustrated by Highway Safety Director Jeff Larson, this phenomena is believed to be mainly in part to improved economic conditions that are causing drivers to log more hours on the road, and an increase in phone usage while driving.
“People when they are distracted, there’s a period of time when they look back up onto the road, the situational awareness isn’t there immediately, and it take time for people to recover and pedestrians and cyclists tend to be the last thing they see,” Larason said.
Richard Retting, a consultant for Sam Schwartz Transportation Consulting Agency, stressed the significance of combating the rising rates of pedestrian fatalities with effective safety measures.
“It is critical that the highway safety community understand these disturbing statistics and work to aggressively implement effective countermeasures,” Retting said.
Marijuana Taxes could Annually Bring in $100 million.
State revenue officials are predicting that marijuana taxes could annually bring in $100 million each year. However, local marijuana advocates are arguing that recent adjustments made to the legalizing marijuana bill are being used to deny the will of Massachusetts residents, whom overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization last fall.
Massachusetts lawmakers have already made significant changes to the bill, like delaying the initiation of commercial sales from December, 2018, to July of that same year. Also, many state legislatures, including Governor Charlie Baker, have proposed raising the tax rate on marijuana sales.
In 2014, Governor Baker ran on the platform of not wanting to raise taxes. However, when asked if he was in favor of raising taxes on the sale of marijuana, a spokeswoman for Baker said…
“The governor believes that the tax rate should reflect the cost of implementing the new law as well as any secondary costs associated with expanded use of marijuana.”
Currently, the tax rates set in place for commercial sales of marijuana are a 3.75% tax on retail sales, a 2% local option tax, and a 6.25% sales tax.
For example, this would mean that the estimated cost of a $100 pot brownie would come out to around $112.
Many Massachusetts cannabis advocates fear that this tweaking of a bill that hasn’t even been implemented yet is a way for state legislatures to deny the will of the people, as said by Seih Samura, a Mattapan self-described cannabis consumer.
“It’s premature to start looking to tweak and change these rules before there’s a market that has been created,” Samura said.
President Trump 2005 Tax Scandal.
According to documents made public last Tuesday, $100 million were written off as business losses by President Trump in 2005 to reduce his federal taxes.
The forms revealed that the President only paid $38 million on federal income taxes on his reported income of $150 million. Rachel Maddow said on her show that would only be an effective tax rate of 25%. This deduction in federal income tax means that Trump saved 10’s of millions of dollars that he should have had to pay in taxes.
The Whitehouse responded before Rachel Maddow’s show could even air.
“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the statement said.
David Cay Johnston, a former New York Times reporter who has written a book on Trump, said that the president saved a large sum by his use of the alternative minimum tax, which made Trump’s tax rate for that year only 24%, which is the same rate that an upper-middle-class married couple would have.
The issue of Trump’s tax history was front and center during the 2016 presidential campaign, since Trump was the first presidential candidate in decades to not make his tax records public.
However, President Trump consistently stated that he could not release his tax returns because he was under audit, a claim that the IRS never confirmed.
There is still very limited information about Trump’s tax returns from other years that have been made public, or surfaced in courts/regulatory records.
Standup for Science.
Hundreds of scientists gathered in Copley Square Sunday to “stand up for science”. The protesters that attended were saying that the Trump administration is ignoring facts about climate change that the scientific community has come to outstanding consensuses on.
“This administration is serving their own interests over the truths of science that can serve so many,” Daniel Faber, director of the Northeastern Environmental Justice Collaborative told the crowd. .
“When we stand up for science, we are standing up for those in Roxbury who are dealing with midnight dumping’s of toxic waste in their community”, he said.
Groups involved in organizing the rally included Greenpeace USA, The Alliance for Climate Education, MIT Alumni for Climate Action Leadership, Divest BU, Divest Harvard and many more.
Stan Laurence, whom works for “Refused Fascism”, a national organization that opposes President Trump’s administration, said that he believes the people drawn to this rally are those who support reason.
“This demonstration is a protest in the support of science, the support of people who engage in science, and the support of people who are trying to understand reality”, Laurence said.
Professor Faber would also go on to talk about how promoting the support of science can help so many people.
“This administration is serving their own interests over the truths of science that can serve so many,” he said. “When we stand up for science, we are standing up for those in Roxbury who are dealing with midnight dumping’s of toxic waste in their community,” he said.
Other people attending the rally were scientists, local Boston students, and professional Environmentalists.
Anthony Downs, an Environmental Engineer at an environmental consulting firm called CK Environmental Agency, which operates out of Canton, Massachusetts, said that President Trump’s focusing on the notion of creating jobs for Americans is slightly misguided.
“Trump believes in big coal and oil companies, which could potentially bring jobs back to the U.S., but he entirely discounts the most prominent reasons we’re trying to move away from these fossil fuels,” he said.
Downs said “the science is in, and there is no longer a debate over the facts”.
“The burning of these types of fossil fuels causes climate change, rises sea levels because of ice melt, causes the acidification of our oceans, and the depletion of our ozone,” he said. “Just because President Trump doesn’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley vowed on Thursday to make the voices of sexual abuse victims louder.
This promise by the Cardinal came after the resignation of Marie Collins, a sexual abuse survivor, from the Papal commission. Her resignation was due to what she describe as “shameful” foot dragging by the Vatican.
Collins claimed that what put her over the edge was her discovery that the Vatican department had refused to answer all of the survivors’ letters, even though Pope Francis had agreed that they would.
Peter Sanders, another member of the commission, was also ordered to take a leave of absence after a conflict with other members in the panel.
The biggest issue that the papal commission is fighting to change in the church is the issue of bishops shielding abusive priests from being tried in a just court of law, which has become a global crisis over the last 15 years.
Cardinal O’Malley claimed that the debate that exists within the church is not about whether or not to punish abusive priests, but the way to go about it. The church is unclear on whether they should expel abusive priests, which would mean they are no longer under the Vatican’s watch, or if they should keep them employed within the church, but constantly monitor them, and ban them from ever working in the ministry again.
Last Wednesday, President Trump lifted the transgender student bathroom protections that were enacted during the Obama administration which allowed transgender students to use whichever bathroom represented the gender they identified with.
Top officials from the Department of Education and from the Justice Department claimed that their main directive for rescinding this policy was because they believed it should be up to the state governments to determine transgender rights, and the federal government should not be regulating this.
The debate on whether or not to rescind this policy divided the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against long time anti-gay rights advocate Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Eventually, DeVos signed the bill once she was threatened that she would lose her job if she didn’t.
The divide in opinion on this issue goes beyond just the Trump administration.
Many social conservatives were pleased to see Trump fulfill one of his campaign promises.
President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins expressed his elation at the fact that President Trump is staying true to his word on rescinding the former administration’s policies that he claimed he would once in office.
“President Trump is keeping the shredders busy with his predecessor’s radical policies and orders,” Perkins said.
However, not everyone is happy about this, including several hundred gay rights activists who were protesting outside the white house, chanting “No hate, No fear, trans students are welcome here”.
Other supporters of transgender rights were advocating that this move by the Trump administration was downright irresponsible and cruel.
Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, believes the impact from the rescinding of this policy will be devastating.
“The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking,” Griffin said. “This isn’t a states’ rights issue, it’s a civil rights issue.”
Around 2000 people died from an opioid related overdose last year in Massachusetts, which is a record death toll.
The State Department of Public Health released a report last Friday stating that the increase in opioid related deaths is not due to heroin, but because of a sister drug called Fentanyl.
Fentanyl, a substitute drug for heroin that’s 50-100 times stronger, is sold by many dealers as a cheaper alternative since its effects are similar, and the way it’s taken by drug users is similar. Fentanyl was medically used for anesthesia and pain relief, but it’s also known to induce euphoria, anxiety reduction, and sedation.
The negative side effects of fentanyl are depression, drowsiness, vomiting, constipation and decreased blood pressure.
One of the main reasons this drug is leading to so many overdoses is that a drug user will dose the amount of what he’s about to ingest based off the dose he would usually take for heroin in the thought that the fentanyl is heroin. However, since fentanyl is much more powerful, the dosage rates are drastically different.
Around three quarters of all the opioid related overdoses in Massachusetts in 2016 involved fentanyl.
While fentanyl and heroin related deaths are on the rise, overdoses from prescription opioids are on the decline. The decline of opioid prescriptions being written by Massachusetts doctors has resulted in a drop from 25% of opioid overdose cases in 2014 to only being the cause of 16% of them in 2015.
Governor Baker’s administration has expanded the budget for the next fiscal year that from $120 million- $180 million. Part of the reason for this was to combat the growing drug crisis.
“The opioid epidemic continues to threaten individuals and families all across Massachusetts and the country” he said. “Our administration will continue to fight this epidemic by further increasing treatment options and expanding support for law enforcement and their efforts to arrest and convict drug traffickers”, he said.