Lamenting the loss of local journalism

Forty-two years ago, the city of Newton had four local newspapers: the Newton Graphic, the Newton Times, the Waltham Tribune (which also served Newton) and the Newton TAB. Residents had to work hard to be uninformed about local government and community comings and goings. As a reporter, then political editor of the Times, I thought …

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Mass. voting laws need upgrade

Any-reason absentee voting, expanded early voting, drop boxes, all designed to limit exposure to COVID-19, all worked to enhance Massachusetts voter turnout for the 2020 election. 3.7 million - 76 percent of those registered - turned out, the highest percentage since 1992. Those procedures expired in June, and, while they have now been extended through …

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Voting suppression and subversion: the GOP’s American dream

Photo Time Inc When it comes to securing voting rights, rhetorical flourish will go only so far. At his eulogy for civil rights icon John Lewis last year, former President Obama waxed eloquent in support of comprehensive legislation. Last week in Philadelphia,  President Biden's voting rights speech was occasionally stirring and substantively on target. But …

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Kidney needed. Pass the word!

The sign hung over Fenway Park, just under the beloved Red Sox icon. It read, "Save Doug Kahn’s Life! BWH.donorscreen.org   Kidney donor urgently needed!" A desperate move on behalf of a desperate young man. Things have never been easy for the 50-year-old Brockton accountant and father of two children, ages nine and seven. As a …

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Time to Replace the 1812 on the Fourth

Backyard barbecues, beach parties, fireworks, and concerts featuring the 1812 Overture – all traditional parts of the holiday celebrating the independence of our nation.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Why, the 1812 Overture, of course. This marquee finale by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and many of us look forward to …

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Summer reading, pt. 3 – a book much more than “a hill of beans”

Hill of Beans, the newest novel by Les Epstein, for 36 years head of the Boston University Creative Writing Program and author of 11 books, including King of the Jews, San Remo Drive, and Pandaemonium,  is another of this writer’s novels about life in Hollywood, this time about the impact of World War II and …

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Summer reading, pt. 2 of 3 – non-fiction

Persist by Massachusetts Senator and failed Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is the kind of memoir that breathes life into a policy tract.  Warren’s campaign mantra was that for each of society’s problems, she had a plan.  She still does, and this memoir of her political career is laced with synopses of her most significant …

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Summertime reading, pt. 1 of 3: fiction choices

Instructions for a Heatwave  is another intriguing narrative about a dysfunctional family by Northern Irish novelist Maggie O’Farrell. Set in a 1976 heatwave in the U.K., the novel focuses on the family of Gretta Riordan, an Irish grandmother, conservative socially and religiously, a woman with clear-cut ideas about right and wrong that she has worked …

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What’s the new normal, mine and the country’s?

Just as I was reveling in the loosening of Covid rules and celebrating the new normalcy - going around with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, getting together with fully vaccinated friends, happily hugging them and relatives at our first reunions in more than 15 months, not taking any of …

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Paul Levy is running for Newton School Committee. Why?

Paul Levy was the much-admired executive director of the Mass Water Resources Authority, who, from 1988-1992, led the stunningly successful cleanup of Boston Harbor.  He had previously chaired the Mass. Department of Public Utilities (1983-1987) and followed that with several years as an adjunct professor at M.I.T. After a series of noteworthy accomplishments in the …

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