Back Talk: More wishes for 2017, Save the EPA!, and King Stork’s inauguration
Jan16

Back Talk: More wishes for 2017, Save the EPA!, and King Stork’s inauguration

More Wishes In response to Hunter Styles’ “Between the Lines: Our Wish List for 2017” posted on Facebook. James Moses: “In the meantime, we’re trying to wish Hillary out of the woods and back into her pantsuit. Maybe the Clintons should relocate from Chappaqua to Stockbridge, and she — or he! — should challenge Baker for governor. Why not?” … if you even have to ask, Hunter, have ya really learned so little in the two-plus years...

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Backtalk: Cheers to good reporting on charter schools, the environment and fake news
Jan09

Backtalk: Cheers to good reporting on charter schools, the environment and fake news

Love for the Advocate Cheers to the Valley Advocate writers and staff for excellence in informative journalism covering topics with both local and universal appeal. Particularly notable in recent months was the “Extra Credit on Question 2 — Follow the Money” article by Hunter Styles that ran under the Between the Lines banner in the Nov. 3 issue. Mr. Styles’ piece brought into focus the out-of-state interests and national debate...

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Backtalk: Readers react to Halos and Horns
Jan03

Backtalk: Readers react to Halos and Horns

Halos & Horns Editor’s Note: Some responses to the Advocate’s annual section dedicated to the promoting and pooh-poohing of what went on in the last year. I just want to congratulate you on your latest issue. I found it engaging and on target. Beside the nods to Planned Parenthood, the SPLC, and other things close to my heart, I was heartened to see the Halo for my dear departed friend Ed Vadas, one of our region’s true and...

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Back Talk: Not bigoted, just religious?
Dec19

Back Talk: Not bigoted, just religious?

Hey, Trump: Labor Secretary Should Champion Workers President-elect Trump just selected Andrew Puzder as his nominee for Secretary of Labor. Unfortunately, as the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., Puzder holds a record of opposing the economic agenda demanded by the majority of the American public. On Election Day alone, voters overwhelmingly supported minimum wage raises and paid sick leave in all four states where the issue was on the...

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Back Talk: The US Flag and Electoral College
Dec12

Back Talk: The US Flag and Electoral College

US flag represents truths both inspiring and terrible We write to offer a veterans’ viewpoint different from those dominating the events at Hampshire College in Amherst. We are members of chapter 95, Veterans for Peace, an international veterans’ organization whose mission is to build a culture of peace, expose the true costs of war, and heal the wounds of war. Though we wouldn’t burn the flag, we applaud and support the work of...

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Back Talk: Hampshire College Brings Back the Flag
Dec05

Back Talk: Hampshire College Brings Back the Flag

Forced to Fly a Flag? Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to Hampshire College’s recent decision to stop flying the American flag on campus. Shortly after receiving this letter, threats made against students, faculty, and staff were part of a decision at the college to raise Old Glory again on Dec. 2. Our traditional U.S. flag is a great symbol of our country’s history: the start, the wars, the unification of all the states. But...

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Back Talk: Time to Unite Under Trump?
Nov28

Back Talk: Time to Unite Under Trump?

Time to Unite? Was Peter Vancini’s Nov. 24-30, 2016 column “Between the Lines: One Nation Under Trump?” the kick in the pants you needed to get over your Clinton funk or the musings of a dreamer?   Great thoughts on joining together at Thanksgiving instead of discussing political issues — we should be united, we are the United States of America! — Mike Lamontagne, Turners Falls   Congratulations on the subject article. Very...

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Back Talk: Fight for Health Care, Feeling Bad for Trump
Nov21

Back Talk: Fight for Health Care, Feeling Bad for Trump

Enough Disappointment to Go Around I was sorely dismayed by the publication of your editorial as if Hillary Clinton had won (“Between the Lines: What Might Have Been,” Nov. 9-16, 2016). I am a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, but your decision to print the column you’d hoped would be relevant was not what good journalists do. Rather than working hard to write a poignant, meaningful and real column, you chose to fall back on the column you...

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Back Talk: Facebook Salutes Trump
Nov14

Back Talk: Facebook Salutes Trump

Facebook Salutes Trump Editor Kristin Palpini’s lament over Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in “Between the Lines: What Might Have Been” drew a bunch of comments: William G. Petrone: Trump won not because people liked Trump but because people did not want the incompetent, crooked wench as President. Kristin Palpini: Just like your statement implies: sexism had nothing to do with it. Joshua David: If Hillary was a...

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Back Talk: A Totally Rigged Election and What’s Worse, Hillary or the Flu Shot?
Nov07

Back Talk: A Totally Rigged Election and What’s Worse, Hillary or the Flu Shot?

Totally Rigged Thank you, Editor Palpini, for the recent article about the “rigging” of the election (“Between the Lines: Are the Elections Rigged?”, Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2016). It is indecorous in the extreme for Republicans to stoke the public’s fear of this possibility when they are the party that has done everything in their power both legally — voter ID laws, gerrymandering, etc. — and illegally — voter suppression — to “rig” our...

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Back Talk: Vote no on Question 2; Haunted by meat
Oct31

Back Talk: Vote no on Question 2; Haunted by meat

The low standards of charter schools I couldn’t believe it when I heard from the MTA that charter schools are not required to hire certified teachers, unless English as a Second Language/English Language Learners (ESL/ELL). They don’t even have to hire teachers with bachelors degrees. This was confirmed by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I’m a retired teacher, and we had to knock ourselves out to keep our...

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Back Talk: Charter schools and third party candidates, questions this years election brings
Oct24

Back Talk: Charter schools and third party candidates, questions this years election brings

Charter schools hurt larger society Certain institutions should always be public. Social Security, prisons and education are three of them. We dodged a bullet when Bush wanted to privatize Social Security. People realized that the financial industry would be taking 31 percent of their contributions making their retirement benefits small. For a time we had private prisons in the federal system until it was realized that the owners were...

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Back Talk: Climate change, pipe-dreams, and kids with weed
Oct17

Back Talk: Climate change, pipe-dreams, and kids with weed

Bad Seeds? Kids and Weed Comments left on “Bad Seeds: Will legal recreational weed lead to more stoned students?” at valleyadvocate.com. Paul Hurteau: Ask a politician if they are pro-choice … Wait for their answer and then ask them about marijuana. Ian James: Quit hiding behind the children. Those kids will soon be adults and distrust you for lying about the devil weed. Scare tactics only ruin your credibility. Prohibition is...

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Back Talk: Cyclists Beware and Holyoke Charter Schools
Oct10

Back Talk: Cyclists Beware and Holyoke Charter Schools

Vertical Grates a Danger to Cyclists The last part of my bicycle commute from Greenfield to Gill is the Gill-Montague Bridge. I had been enduring black hole potholes, asphalt that was worn down to dirt, and trucks and cars barrelling within feet of me. My vision of trips on a designated bike trail, with an unclenched jaw and leisurely glances at the river beneath were immediately shattered when I saw that they had installed vertical...

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Backtalk: Immigration celebration, saving water, and love for old lesbians
Sep26

Backtalk: Immigration celebration, saving water, and love for old lesbians

Celebrate Immigration I think the people of Northampton and the whole Pioneer Valley should take the lead and turn the arrival of refugees to our area into a celebration. Our country’s founding principles are based on no discrimination. Instead of fearing these unknown immigrants, let’s let them want to contribute to our community. Instead of greeting them with bigotry, why not present each of them with Statues of Liberty?...

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Back Talk: How About Some Decent Health Care Over Here?
Sep19

Back Talk: How About Some Decent Health Care Over Here?

Gratitude’s Nice, Affordable Healthcare is Better This past Grandparents Day some grandparents across our nation might get a telephone call or a note from a loved one. It is more important to focus on more crucial issues facing older Americans. Retirement and how to afford it is one critical issue that concerns seniors. Our healthcare costs have soared. A new study by Fidelity says couples need $260,000 in retirement just to pay our...

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BackTalk: A New Slogan for Trump, The Clintons by Andrew Loyd Webber
Sep12

BackTalk: A New Slogan for Trump, The Clintons by Andrew Loyd Webber

Editorial Art Did you know Cinemadope columnist Jack Brown is also a talented illustrator? See his Trump campaign poster and more Brown art at jackjohnbrown.com.     The Rich Get Richer If you ask enough people in our community if they’re able to sustain their families and make ends meet, you’ll quickly find out that too many of my friends and neighbors aren’t getting a fair shake. Even as the economy has turned around, most...

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Backtalk: No to GMOs, Right to Roam, and Hot Takes on Pearl Street Nightclub
Aug29

Backtalk: No to GMOs, Right to Roam, and Hot Takes on Pearl Street Nightclub

Avoid GMOs; go organic Farmers have increased their pesticide use on GMO crops three-fold compared to standard conventional use; that’s enough reason to avoid GMOs (“Vermont’s Short-Lived GMO Experiment” Aug. 11-17, 2016). Most GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are “Roundup Ready” meaning the plant is resistant to the pesticide containing glyphosate, its main ingredient. The World Health Organization, and California, have labeled...

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Backtalk: Irate over Iraq, Going Green, and Cat Burglars
Aug22

Backtalk: Irate over Iraq, Going Green, and Cat Burglars

We’re Back, Iraq Recent headlines announcing more U.S. troops to Iraq made me feel like the character in Bill Murray’s movie Groundhog Day, and with good reason … The politicians in Washington have been duped into believing that more violence will solve the problem — but it has not. The current political campaign reveals that neither candidate is capable of achieving a solution. The people of our country stopped a viciously violent...

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Back Talk: There is money to be made with co-ops
Aug15

Back Talk: There is money to be made with co-ops

Cooperative Behavioral Health Care Deserves a Shot The Valley Advocate’s excellent piece on cooperative businesses (“Surprise! It’s a co-op. Any business can be a worker-owned business,” Aug. 4-10, 2016) was just the sort of education and inspiration we need to stem the oppression posed by today’s corporatocratic political and economic hegemony. With the will, creativity, and initiative, we’ll indeed see many new types of businesses...

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Back Talk: Inspired by Erykah, Disgusted by Gerena
Jul25

Back Talk: Inspired by Erykah, Disgusted by Gerena

Inspired I am truly inspired by Erykah’s courage (“In Her Own Words: Incarcerated in a Greenfield men’s correctional facility, Erykah Carter documents her transition”). Even as painstaking as it must of been. The feelings of being scared, or accepted by not just your family and friends, but society in general can be terrifying , people can be cruel. Most people claim to be “non-judgmental, ” but the truth is...

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Back Talk: Why not deport criminals? Mourning So Many
Jul11

Back Talk: Why not deport criminals? Mourning So Many

Why Not Deport Criminals? The following is in reference to the article, “Between the Lines: Report a Crime, Risk Deportation” June 9-15, 2016. Why is it a bad thing to deport people who are here illegally who have committed not one, but two crimes? I’m not versed in this matter and am truly curious. Your article says that the person suspected of being here illegally would have to be arrested and be a “high priority” for ICE...

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Back Talk: Mental for Basemental
Jul05

Back Talk: Mental for Basemental

Mental for Basemental I’ve been a reader of the Advocate for many years and I just wanted to say that I have really been appreciating Will Meyer’s Basemental column over the last several weeks. I’ve been to some of these basements and DIY venues he’s writing about, and it is really good to see this side of the local music scene covered — usually ignored by the IHEG/Signature Sounds powers that be. I met Will at...

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Guest Column: We had our own Brock Turner situation in the Valley
Jun27

Guest Column: We had our own Brock Turner situation in the Valley

We Had Our Own Brock Turner  Situation in the Valley The sentencing of Brock Turner by California Judge Aaron Persky has sparked a national discussion of how we hold young drunk college men accountable for sexual assault. The general sentiment is that Persky was far too lenient, sentencing the Stanford University student and swimmer to just three months in jail and probation. There is now a recall effort underway to remove Persky from...

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Back Talk: ‘As a firearm-owning gay man, I thank you!’
Jun20

Back Talk: ‘As a firearm-owning gay man, I thank you!’

Guns ‘N’ Education “The Kirk Whatley Challenge: Before you write guns off, shoot one — safely” (June 16-22, 2016) by Hunter Styles attracted a lot of attention online. We posted the article to Facebook along with the question: Can you truly be anti-gun without first firing one? Is that fair? Here’s what people had to say: Corinne Shaw: Can you be straight without trying out a homosexual experience? Josh Pelland: Before firing one take...

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Back Talk: What Killed the Monkey; Pride Month Massacre
Jun14

Back Talk: What Killed the Monkey; Pride Month Massacre

What Killed the Monkey Facebook reactions to “Gross Negligence Alleged in Death of UMass Lab Monkey” William Robinson: Sounds like the incident didn’t have much to do with the nature of the research itself, but a veterinary mishap resulting from pure accident — not neglect or malice. Consider how frequently standard surgeries on humans have complications. I’d be curious to hear more about the specifics of the studies...

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Back Talk: What is Columbus Day Really?; Triple Beef
Jun06

Back Talk: What is Columbus Day Really?; Triple Beef

  What is Columbus Day, really?   Interesting article by Kristin Palpini (“Between the Lines: Columbus, Genocidal Slave-Traders Should Not Get Their Own Holidays” May 26-June 1, 2016). As a child growing up in the ’60s and ’70s I learned from my family and my public education that Christopher Columbus discovered America. As an Italian American that was something I was proud of and held my American flag high at the Columbus...

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From Our Readers: Assault on assault weapons; Fossil fuels run UMass
May16

From Our Readers: Assault on assault weapons; Fossil fuels run UMass

Assault on Assault Weapons Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, residents of Longmeadow voted on three proposed measures to ban all assault weapons from the town, keep a more detailed catalog of guns kept in town, and to ban any firearm from public buildings and recreation areas. All of the proposed measures were voted down. Below is reader reaction to a column written prior to the vote. The Between the Lines [“Can Longmeadow Ban...

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From Our Readers: Random acts of kind driving! Pot is not harmless May 12-18, 2016
May09

From Our Readers: Random acts of kind driving! Pot is not harmless May 12-18, 2016

Pot is not harmless In March, I was invited by community members to speak to students at Mount Holyoke College about the current science of marijuana, an issue I have devoted much of my career to understanding. I was surprised and saddened that a letter writer from Amherst characterized my lecture as “biased and propaganda-based” (Letter: “Time for truth in cannabis science,” April 21-27, 2016). As a neuroscientist, I do my absolute...

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Letters to the Editor: Divestment victory at UMass? (April 28-May 4, 2016)
Apr25

Letters to the Editor: Divestment victory at UMass? (April 28-May 4, 2016)

So, that’s what victory looks like Divest UMass supporters are close to victory. [“Scene Here: #DivestTheRest,” April 21-27, 2016.] What kind of victory? Well, as you explained in last week’s issue, a $5 million divestment from “dirty-energy companies”. Meanwhile, Berkshire Gas has a pipeline running to the UMass central heating plant, which operates annually on $94 million according to its line item in the UMass...

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Letters to the Editor: Get real about pot, local suicide prevention – April 21-27, 2016
Apr18

Letters to the Editor: Get real about pot, local suicide prevention – April 21-27, 2016

Time for truth in cannabis science The other night, I attended a lecture at Mount Holyoke College by Dr. Jodi Gilman, neuroscientist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Her talk was advertised as a broad overview of the science of marijuana, focusing on the evidence of risks associated with cannabis use, as well as the changing legal status of marijuana in the U.S. I am an educator/counselor who has been working with...

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From Our Readers: Praying for Bernie, GMO veggies or hunted deer meat?
Mar14

From Our Readers: Praying for Bernie, GMO veggies or hunted deer meat?

Praying for Bernie I am praying for a Bernie Sanders presidency. If we want our compassionate world to come truly, in our heart of hearts, then we say to each other we are ready to take the steps and say the words to invite that world. Bernie is the only candidate who is saying he will walk with us to that world of our creation. Every other choice is a variation on despair, bringing us a world in which we despair. I praise this...

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Guest Column: Two Years, Two Lockdowns – Guns and campus life
Feb29

Guest Column: Two Years, Two Lockdowns – Guns and campus life

By Tess Halpern, Daily Collegian I have only once cried in school that I can remember, and it wasn’t because I was hurt, heartbroken, or had just failed a test; it was because I was scared. Sept. 24, 2014, in the beginning of my senior year in high school, my principal’s voice came on the loudspeaker announcing that we were going into lockdown. For the first time in my life, those generally un-alarming words were followed by, “this is...

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From Our Readers: Slavery study would be divisive, Corrections
Feb24

From Our Readers: Slavery study would be divisive, Corrections

Slavery study would be divisive Your expectation that HR 40 has no chance is valid (Between the Lines: Congress Keeps Killing Conversation on Race” Feb. 18-24, 2016). The concern is that after the conclusion of the investigation there will be a louder call and greater expectation than what already exists for “reparations,” such as these I am hearing lately: Open admission to a free college education, housing subsidies so that...

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From Our Readers: What’s up with WMUA? Readers weigh in on pit bulls
Feb08

From Our Readers: What’s up with WMUA? Readers weigh in on pit bulls

WTF WMUA? UMass Amherst radio station WMUA’s draconian reduction of community programming warrants focusing the spotlight of public scrutiny on this newly minted, institutionalized contempt for the community. In one instance, the student leadership of WMUA, acting with impunity, eviscerated the weekend broadcasts of polka music. Empowered by well-paid university bureaucrats, those students unilaterally slashed the number of hours...

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