Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?
Jun19

Can Rankled Rural Voters Dethrone Congressman Neal?

When Sara Weinberger moved from her longtime community of Northampton to neighboring Easthampton three years ago, she mostly loved it. The worst part, she said, was changing congressional districts — going from being represented by Worcester Democrat James McGovern to Springfield Democrat Richard Neal.After having a responsive congressman in McGovern, who Weinberger said listened to what she had to say, she was surprised to have the...

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Easthampton Couple Builds Garden — And Relationship — Based On What They Can Find
Jun09

Easthampton Couple Builds Garden — And Relationship — Based On What They Can Find

The way Faith Manning Enuol tells it, she went to work one afternoon, and when she returned, the garden she was building with her husband Rich Enuol tripled in size.In actuality, Rich spent the day foraging for materials, finding everything they needed — including the nails — in the woods behind their Easthampton home.Newly married, Faith, 27, comes from Connecticut, while Rich, 31, is a political refugee from south of Vietnam. Their...

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Boston Just Got A Free College Plan. Can Western Mass, Too?
Jun05

Boston Just Got A Free College Plan. Can Western Mass, Too?

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker just announced a low-income, free-tuition program for the city of Boston that sounds like it came from the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Four years of college education in Massachusetts public colleges without tuition or mandatory fees for low income students eligible for federal Pell Grants.The question many in western Massachusetts are asking is, “Can we get a piece of that, too?”In a...

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Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us
Jun02

Now Fulfilling The Provisions of the Paris Agreement Is Up To Us

It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. Donald Trump ran a campaign based on denying climate science, so his Thursday announcement that he would be pulling out of the international climate agreement represents a promise fulfilled.But the advantage of having a president who was elected by a minority of voters (3 million less than Hillary Clinton) is that the majority of the voting public actually disagrees with the policies Trump...

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New Springfield Drug Court Offers Addicts An Alternative To Prison
May30

New Springfield Drug Court Offers Addicts An Alternative To Prison

It looks like a normal courtroom, but once a week, Courtroom 10 in Hampden District Court hosts a legal session that is anything but typical.Rather than be shamed from the bench for crimes committed, a group of recovering addicts speaks to a judge eye-to-eye and receives a round of applause for the progress they have made. Gone is the judge’s austere black robe. He just wears a suit during the session.The Springfield drug court,...

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Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism
May30

Working Against Bad Political Actors Is Not Bias — It’s Journalism

Well, it has happened again. Another person who appears to be a sociopath caught in an act of hatred has been elevated to a position of power in our government. And this despite what we must call an alleged (though it was caught on tape and corroborated at the scene) attack against a reporter.This election, much like Trump’s election, has brought to mind the role of the journalist. Why do we put ourselves in situations where we could...

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Born-Again Buildings: Turning Churches Into Places To Live
May22

Born-Again Buildings: Turning Churches Into Places To Live

Liza King, 66, and Rick Neumann, 71, of Brattleboro, are about to fulfill what has felt like their lifelong ambition. On June 1, after nearly 20 years, they will move into their church sanctuary.“Their” church, by the way, doesn’t mean the church to which they belong, but the church that belongs to them. Liza and Rick are among a small, intrepid bunch across the region who have purchased former churches to convert to spaces to...

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Yep, Climate Change Is Real … We Checked It Ourselves
May15

Yep, Climate Change Is Real … We Checked It Ourselves

Climate change is a worldwide problem, and we often hear of how it is affecting low-lying countries in Asia and the melting polar ice caps, but local climate data shows us how things are changing right here in the Pioneer Valley.And changing they are.The National Centers for Environmental Information, run by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, collects station data all over the world, and has for more than 100...

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Air Sexus Interruptus
May15

Air Sexus Interruptus

In a staggering blow to anyone looking for a weird experience on a Monday evening, tonight’s air sex tournament (think air guitar, but with sex) has been mysteriously cancelled.The event was going to take place at 7 p.m. at the Iron Horse, but a message on the Iron Horse Entertainment Group website says in red letters, “This event has been cancelled due to reasons beyond the control of mere mortals. Refunds can be obtained...

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With Criminal Charges Dropped, Pipeline Protesters Vow to Fight On
May12

With Criminal Charges Dropped, Pipeline Protesters Vow to Fight On

Protesters looking to use climate change as a legal defense of their actions to try to stop a natural gas pipeline expansion project through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield won’t need to bother. Charges against them, which included trespassing and disorderly conduct, were downgraded from criminal to civil infractions this week. Now, members of the anti-pipeline Sugar Shack Alliance, which had planned to offer testimony establishing...

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With Obamacare Under Fire, Massachusetts Must Lead on Health Care — Again
May08

With Obamacare Under Fire, Massachusetts Must Lead on Health Care — Again

The Republicans did it. They cobbled together an Obamacare replacement bill so bad that they got the most conservative members of the House to vote for it — people like Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, who implied the majority of people with pre-existing conditions have them because they don’t “lead good lives,” and like Raul Labrador of Idaho, who recently said that “no one dies because they don’t have health care.”Now we in...

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And To Think That I Saw It At Northampton Pride – Photos and 360 Video
May06

And To Think That I Saw It At Northampton Pride – Photos and 360 Video

The rain made way for the rainbows, as it always does.Not half-an-hour after the thousands of rainbow shirts, flags, balloons, and all manner of rainbow apparel hit the streets to begin the Northampton Pride Parade on Saturday, the morning’s rain was a memory and blue skies prevailed.The Advocate was there with a 360 camera borrowed from Northampton Community Television, and, of course, with my phone, too.Without further ado,...

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What Are Those Flowering Trees/Bushes I Drive By Every Day?
May05

What Are Those Flowering Trees/Bushes I Drive By Every Day?

The bloom is on the branch and spring has sprung. And even in my short commute to work, I pass about a dozen varieties of flowering trees and bushes. It occurred to me that I haven’t the slightest idea what most of them are called.So I took out my phone and took a few photos on my way to work and reached out to some tree aficionados and a local expert at UMass Extension to help me out. What trees do you see in the Pioneer...

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5 Philippine Leaders Who Actually Deserve An Invitation To The White House
May01

5 Philippine Leaders Who Actually Deserve An Invitation To The White House

I can’t say I was surprised when I read over the weekend that President Donald Trump had invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte – who has advocated extrajudicial killings of drug users in his home country – to the White House.But I was deeply disturbed.Duterte has joked about rape and claimed that as president he would kill as many drug addicts as Hitler killed Jews. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there is 3...

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5 Things To Know About Postpartum Health
May01

5 Things To Know About Postpartum Health

Each week on Thursday afternoons is a Beyond Birth group in the little yellow house by Cooley-Dickinson Hospital. While my wife and I were on leave following the birth of our son, we tried to attend this group as often as we could.The group welcomes parents of babies up to six months to share the triumphs and challenges of those exciting and very difficult first months of parenting.Among the biggest surprises — both for my wife and...

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UMass Data Students Rub Elbows With Industry Leaders
Apr28

UMass Data Students Rub Elbows With Industry Leaders

Aditya Shastry of India had two years of statistics experience in the finance field, the start of what would have seemed a lucrative career. But he found his work limiting; he wanted to work on his own project.He applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst master’s degree program in data science.“Instead of learning in the industry specific programs where you have one model you develop, I wanted to get a broader...

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Nuclear Activists Raise Concerns Over Vermont Yankee Quick Fix
Apr24

Nuclear Activists Raise Concerns Over Vermont Yankee Quick Fix

Over the last few months, a proposal to sell the now-closed Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant to a company called NorthStar has gotten some attention.Vermont Yankee shut down in 2014 and is in Vernon, a town at the southeastern corner of Vermont. Most of Franklin County in Massachusetts fell within the plant’s recently discontinued 10-mile evacuation zone.Entergy, which now owns the plant, had originally proposed completing the...

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Between the Lines: What Georgia’s Special Election Results Mean for 2018
Apr19

Between the Lines: What Georgia’s Special Election Results Mean for 2018

Democrat and political newcomer Jon Ossoff failed to capture Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District in the first round. But Tuesday’s special election results may give Democrats across the country hopes of recapturing the House in 2018 and thwarting the second half of Donald Trump’s term as president.Ossoff reached just above 48 percent of the vote; one vote above 50 percent would have earned him a seat right away....

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UMass student tries to combine online anonymity and positivity
Apr21

UMass student tries to combine online anonymity and positivity

The Internet has a problem, and that problem is that many of the people who use it are bullies and cowardly naysayers who hide behind their anonymity.On the other hand, Peter Tao, a junior and biochemistry major at UMass Amherst, is upbeat and positive to a fault. I am skeptical as I sit across from him at the Blue Wall when he tells me an iPhone app he developed called Spotlight is designed specifically to let people post photos...

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In wake of deadly fire, Holyoke expands alarm incentive program
Apr18

In wake of deadly fire, Holyoke expands alarm incentive program

It was a terrible way to start the New Year.Three people died and nearly 50 were displaced as a fire consumed the five-story building at 106 North East Street on January 1, 2017.Looking for a quick way to respond, the City of Holyoke has expanded its federally funded Rental Neighborhood Improvement Program to provide financial incentive to rental property owners to include more robust fire alarm systems.The program already provided...

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Is this World War III? Not yet
Apr17

Is this World War III? Not yet

A chemical weapons attack in Syria, a missile strike from the United States and worsening relations with Russia have made this month a serious pivot point in the protracted Syrian conflict.Is this the moment future historians will identify as the start to a new Cold War with Russia, the beginning of a larger U.S. intervention in Syria or even World War III? (Will there be any future historians at that point?) A short recap of what has...

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Piecing together a new Northampton performance space
Apr17

Piecing together a new Northampton performance space

Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, April 17, Owen Wormser changed out of his flip-flops and donned work boots. Fitting pieces of stone together in the lot in front of Ghost Bread and across the street from the former Serio’s market, Wormser is polishing off a five-tiered amphitheater that will house workshops music and puppet shows by the time summer rolls around.The site has been regraded by hand and volunteers have already put in...

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That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me
Apr14

That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me

I had never read Noam Chomsky before or seen him speak, but I’d definitely heard about him over the years. Most recently when watching the movie “Captain Fantastic,” when the main characters — a super smart, back-to-the-land family — all celebrate “Chomsky Day” as if it was Christmas.There was a lot of hype for his talk at the UMass Amherst Mullins Center on Thursday night and the line to get in stretched well down the...

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BTL: How Democrats can get their Supreme Court Revenge
Apr10

BTL: How Democrats can get their Supreme Court Revenge

Thanks to Republican dirty tricks, Trump-nominee Neil Gorsuch has been confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. But a little-known political maneuver from the 1930s might be the Democrat’s ticket to wresting back Court control.Gorsuch will be seated on the court with 54 “Yea” votes, fewer than any justice except for Clarence Thomas, who got 52. Senate ‘Yes’ votes for Supreme Court nominees since JFK  The vote, which took...

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Between the Lines: E-ZPass and the Impending Robot Takeover
Sep26

Between the Lines: E-ZPass and the Impending Robot Takeover

I’m soon going to have to decide if a pull towards convenience outweighs my fear of a total robot takeover of the world as we know it.I may get an E-ZPass transponder.The decision should be made simpler by the fact that the state of Massachusetts isn’t giving any of us much choice. Anyone who uses the Mass Pike without one will pay close to double what E-ZPass subscribers pay when new toll system goes live in late...

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Valley Advocate Staff picks – Get out there!
Aug22

Valley Advocate Staff picks – Get out there!

CT HorrorFest • Saturday My favorite time of the year is around the corner, and all these marvelous Halloween events keep popping up. This Saturday, feast your eyes upon some of horror’s finest. Meet and greet with the “Godfather of the Dead” George A. Romero. The ladies of one of my all-time favorite films Evil Dead will be there, too. Go to http://www.cthorror.com for full details and guests. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Matrix Conference...

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Staff Picks: Get out there!
Aug18

Staff Picks: Get out there!

TITANIS Farewell Show in Florence – FridaySpringfield’s ambient, heavy doomers TITANIS are bidding farewell? Insert sad face here. Make sure to check them out before you can’t. It’s worth it. Also that night, rockers A Moment To Riot, Nim and Esperanto will be on the bill. 9:00 p.m., 18, $7. 13th Floor Music Lounge, 99 Main St., (Above JJ’S Tavern), Florence. — Jennifer Levesque Dr. Funkenstein...

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Your guide to the 30th Green River Festival (July 8-10)
Jun09

Your guide to the 30th Green River Festival (July 8-10)

  THE LINEUP FRIDAYPeter Wolf NRBQ Dustbowl Revival Charles Neville Ola Fresca Mariachi Flor De Toloache Campos Xixa SATURDAYDawes Shakey Graves Shovels & Rope The Suffers The Felice Brothers Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds And The Kids Dustbowl Revival The Soul Rebels Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers Greyhounds Anthony D’Amato Leland Sundries Oh Pep! Mister G Peter Mulvey & The Crumbling Beauties Present Raindogs The Alchemystics...

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