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    The college hired a pair of civil rights attorneys to investigate a report of a suspicious person who turned out to be a student.

    NORTHAMPTON -- An investigation into an alleged instance of racial profiling at Smith College this summer found no evidence of discrimination, according to documents the college released Monday.

    Despite the fact that the investigation found no evidence of bias, the school says it will try to make "enhancements to its staff trainings to address concerns about the influence of implicit bias in this area." 

    "The report's findings are important in two respects. First, they provide a foundation for potential reconciliation and healing for those involved," Smith College President Kathleen McCartney said in a statement. "Second, they include recommendations about Smith's future, a future in which we recommit to ensuring that every member of our community feels welcome and valued."

    The report comes in response to a July 31 incident in which a Smith employee called campus security to report a person who was in an area of a building that was closed for the day. The officer who responded found the subject of the call to be Oumou Kanoute, a black student who had been eating lunch.

    The incident gained national and international press coverage after Kanoute, who was working with one of the college's summer programs, wrote a series of social media posts about her experience. She was interviewed by CNN, The Boston Globe, and CBS

    The documents the college released Monday were produced during an investigation civil rights attorneys Anthony Cruthird and Kate Upatham.

    The attorneys, from the Sanghavi Law Office -- which specializes in discrimination and civil rights -- interviewed 11 people and reviewed social media posts, statements made to media outlets, as well as college policies and other documents.

    "The Investigative Team did not find sufficient information to show that this decision was based on the Reported Party's race or color, or violated the Policy," said the 35-page report, referring to Smith College's affirmative action policy.

    The investigators found employees were concerned that a person was in a house that was typically unoccupied during that time. 

    The report also said neither the caller nor campus dispatch mentioned Kanoute's race during the call. 

    The employee who called security was subsequently placed on administrative leave.

    According to statements on the school's website, administrators do not "anticipate pursuing any adverse employment action in connection" with the incident. It is unclear whether he has been taken off of leave.

    In the meantime, the now 20-year-old student also garnered representation by the American Civil Liberties Union, which vowed to pursue litigation against Smith if policy adjustments were not made.  

    Among the investigators' recommendations were: "consider ways to facilitate reporter focus on behaviors, rather than persons, reported as 'suspicious,'" and for the college to "consider developing protocols for staff for responding to unanticipated
    encounters with individuals in buildings, rooms, or other locations on campus."

    McCartney said the recommendations are "closely aligned with suggestions we have received from the student."

    "I want to assure you that the college will pursue these recommendations; in fact, relevant departments on campus have already begun to design and implement new procedures," she said.  

    McCartney's statement said the college would hold an informal discussion at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel early Monday afternoon.


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    It seems Massachusetts voters want Elizabeth Warren to remain in the Senate, not reach for higher office.

    It seems Massachusetts voters want Elizabeth Warren to remain in the Senate, not reach for higher office. 

    A new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren as she seeks re-election for a second term. The poll of likely voters released Monday shows a 22-point lead over Republican Geoff Diehl with about 56 percent of support. Diehl saw about 34 percent and the remaining 10 percent split between Independent Shiva Ayyadurai - 4 percent - and 6 percent who said they were undecided. 

    Though it shows a comfortable lead in support for the Senate race, she did not see similar results regarding a potential presidential run. 

    Pollsters asked "Do you believe Elizabeth Warren should run for president in 2020?"

    An overwhelming majority - about 68 percent - said "no". She saw support from about 17 percent, and about 15 percent were undecided. 

    When asked which Massachusetts Democrat they would support, the majority chose former Gov. Deval Patrick over Warren - 51 percent to 21 percent. 

    Warren said during a campaign event in Western Massachusetts last month that she's exploring the possibility of running for president in 2020. 

    "After November 6th, I will take a hard look at running for president," Warren told a packed house at Holyoke City Hall. "It is time for women to go to Washington and fix our broken government and that includes a woman at the top."

    A recent national poll conducted this month found her neck and neck in a hypothetical 2020 presidential match-up against President Donald Trump. The poll suggested she would get 75 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans, meanwhile the president would receive 82 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats. 

    The same week, she released a sleek video detailing results of a DNA test that suggested "strong evidence of Native American ancestry". 

    "In the senator's genome, we did find five segments of Native American ancestry with very high confidence, where we believe the error rate is less than 1,000," Carlos Bustamante, a Stanford University professor who studies genome analysis and conducted the test. 

    Bustamante said the results suggest she had a Native American ancestor in her family 6-10 generations ago.

    Warren took a DNA test in August seeking to address the controversy regarding family claims of Native American heritage. The senator says her parents eloped because her father's family was opposed to the marriage, citing her mother's Native heritage.

    "The way I see it, at the end of the day, what the people of Massachusetts said is they cared a whole lot more about their families than they did about my background," she said. "My brothers and I, we grew up in Oklahoma, we know our story from our mom and our dad, and our grandmothers and our grandfather, and from our aunts."

    Warren's heritage has been a campaign issue since her first run for the Senate against incumbent Republican Scott Brown. 

    Trump has referred to Warren as "Pochahontas" and said he would donate $1 million to the charity of her choice if she took a DNA test. He has since denied saying this, despite video footage of the comments. 

    The likely voters polled were asked asked of Warren's recent announcement of a DNA test. Less than half agreed with her decision to take and release the results. Of those polled, 43 percent said they agreed, roughly the same number as those who disagreed with the decision. About 14 percent said they were undecided and about one percent declined to answer. 

    The results in Massachusetts were similar to that of a national poll. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found roughly half of voters nationwide said the DNA test results made no difference in their view of her. 


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    The package, according to CNN, appeared to be identical to the other packages authorities say were sent by pipe bomb suspect Cesar A. Sayoc Jr. Watch video

    The FBI is investigating a suspicious package addressed to the CNN Center and intercepted Monday morning at a downtown Atlanta post office.

    It was the third time in a week a suspicious package has been addressed to CNN.

    The package, according to CNN, appeared to be identical to the other packages authorities say were sent by pipe bomb suspect Cesar A. Sayoc Jr. to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump. He was arrested on Friday and is due in court today.

    Atlanta police responded after learning about the package around 9:40 a.m., according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. A robot was seen in the post office parking lot with the bomb disposal unit and was put away at about 12:20 p.m. as authorities began to clear the scene.

    The other two packages addressed to CNN were apparent mail bombs. The first package arrived Wednesday morning in the mailroom at Time Warner Center, home to CNN's New York offices. It was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who actually works for NBC. The second package was addressed to both CNN contributor James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, and CNN.

    As a result of Wednesday's package, all mail destined for CNN's domestic offices are now being screened first at off-site facilities.

    Among the other recipients of suspicious packagers were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Rep. Maxine Waters.

    Filmmaker Michael Moore has posted an outtake from his film
    "Farenheit 11/9," which he says shows Sayoc at a February 2017 rally carrying a "CNN Sucks" banner.


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    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, released another batch of campaign ads Monday in a final push to promote her re-election bid ahead of next week's midterm election.

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, released another batch of campaign ads Monday in a final push to promote her re-election bid ahead of next week's midterm election. 

    Warren, who faces challenges from Republican Geoff Diehl and independent candidate Shiva Ayyadurai, unveiled two, 30-second online ads: One that takes aim at "corruption" in Washington; and one that touts her efforts to connect with Massachusetts voters -- including at a Springfield town hall. 

    The ad entitled "Big Changes," focuses on the Massachusetts Democrat's proposal to fight corruption in Washington D.C. by cracking down on the role money plays in federal politics, banning elected officials from becoming lobbyists after they leave office and barring presidents from owning companies while in office.

    Warren, who is featured in video, argues that "the corruption didn't start with Donald Trump, but it's gotten a lot worse -- and we need some big changes."

    "Corruption is eating away at the heart of our democracy. I'm Elizabeth Warren and I approve this message: America can be better than this -- if we fight for it," she said in the ad. 

    Elizabeth Warren unveils plans to root out corruption in Washington, ensure federal government works for Americans

    In the video entitled "Town Halls Across Massachusetts," meanwhile, highlights issues raised at the 35 town halls Warren, an oft-rumored 2020 presidential contender, has held across the state in recent months. 

    "Hello Brockton! Here we go! Hello Springfield!" it begins with a clip of Warren addressing Western Massachusetts town hall attendees. 

    It further notes that after the various events, which yielded "hundreds of questions" and more than 8,000 selfies, Warren has just "one mission:" creating an American that's for everyone.

    "That's what this fight is about," she said in the video.

    The new ads come just two weeks after the senator released two digital campaign ads highlighting her work on Capitol Hill. 

    US Senate race: Elizabeth Warren releases new campaign ads

    Diehl, who is looking to unseat Warren, has also released ads ahead of the November election. 

    Voters will weigh in on the U.S. Senate race featuring Warren, Diehl and Ayyadurai on Nov. 6.


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    The state Department of Public Health has selected Tapestry to provide a needle exchange program in Springfield with a target date of opening on Dec. 1.

    SPRINGFIELD -- The state Department of Public Health has selected Tapestry, a regional health services organization, to provide a needle exchange program in Springfield. 

    The program -- known as as "Syringe Access Services," has a target opening date of Dec. 1.

    Tapestry's selection comes after many years of consideration and some controversy, including a proposed pilot program the City Council rejected in 1998.

    Earlier this year Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen R. Caulton-Harris formally approved the launch of a program, as recommended by the city's Public Health Council in March. The council declared the city's opioid crisis a public health emergency.

    The city then began the process of selecting an organization to run the program.

    Tapestry already provides syringe access programs in Northampton, Holyoke, Greenfield and North Adams. The programs provide access to sterile needles and safe disposal, and are intended to help reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and other diseases that can be spread by shared needles.

    "We're really excited to provide this needed service," said Liz Whynott, Tapestry's director of HIV health and prevention. "It's going to be an extension of existing services that have been shown to decrease HIV, Hepatitis C, and the number of deaths from overdoses, with the inclusion now of syringe access."

    The site of Springfield's needle distribution program is still being worked on, Whynott said. Tapestry "is working on the details of acquiring a new site" for the needle program, as well as the use of mobile vans for outreach, she said.

    Tapestry, which has multiple office sites in Springfield, will be providing the clean needles in exchange for used needles, while working with other organizations on related program services, Whynott said. 

    The syringe access program includes: syringe distribution, collection and disposal; HIV/Hepatitis C/Sexual Transmitted infections testing; overdose education and Naloxone distribution; substance use risk screening and referral to treatment; and mental health assessment and linkage to counseling and treatment, said Ann Scales, state Department of Public Health spokeswoman.

    The state investment in the Springfield program is $600,000, Scales said. A detailed breakdown was not immediately available.

    The state lists the New North Citizens Council as a program subcontractor, and there is an agreement with Baystate Medical Center to provide in-kind services.

    Tapestry currently provides HIV and overdose prevention services at 130 Maple St. It provides sexual and reproductive health services at 1985 Main St., according to its website. It also offers WIC Family Nutrition at 1985 Main St. and 11 Wilbraham Road.

    Tapestry's syringe access program in other communities is working to address the issues related to drug use and shared needles, Whynott said.

    There is still, however, "an incredible gap in services," she said.

    Caulton-Harris, in inviting the state in July to launch its needle exchange program in Springfield, raised concerns about the availability of treatment beds. The Public Health Council had recommended the program four months earlier.

    State law allows the needle program now to be approved by local boards of health, following a public hearing, rather than by vote of elected bodies, Caulton-Harris said.

    There are currently 20 syringe programs in Massachusetts, including Boston and Worcester.

    Scales said that as of Oct. 1, there were 147 acute treatment beds in the western region of Massachusetts, as well as 21 clinical stabilization beds, 57 transitional support services beds, and 327 adult residential treatment beds.

    In addition, Scales said that not all individuals with an opioid-related disorder need an in-patient bed, as there are 19 office-based opioid treatment programs in the region that offer medication-assisted treatment.


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    Sports gamblers could eventually bet on the NBA and NHL at the MGM Springfield casino -- if Massachusetts legislators legalize the practice.

    Sports gamblers could eventually bet on the NBA and NHL at the MGM Springfield casino -- if Massachusetts lawmakers legalize the practice.

    MGM Resorts has signed a deal to become the official betting partner of the NHL, following a 2017 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to legalize and regulate sports gambling.

    The move comes on the heels of MGM announcing a similar partnership with the NBA in July.

    MGM currently offers sports betting in New Jersey and Mississippi, two the six states that have already implemented full-scale legalization, as well as in the long-time legal gambling haven Las Vegas.

    Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and New York have also passed bills legalizing sports betting but have not yet launched their industries, according to ESPN.

    And MGM is ready to offer bets to Massachusetts gamblers.

    "MGM will offer sport betting if legalized in Mass.," an MGM Springfield spokesman wrote in an email.

    But despite an initial rush of interest following the Supreme Court's ruling in May of last year, Massachusetts lawmakers have not yet introduced any such legislation. In June, Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Chairman Rep. Joseph Wagner told WGBY he expects to take up the issue during the 2019 legislative session.

    "The approach here is to move this to the front burner but to not move so quickly that we get it wrong," Wagner said. 

    Illegal sports betting is already big business in Massachusetts, according to an analysis by H2 Gambling Capital, a betting market intelligence firm. H2 estimated that in 2016 Massachusetts gamblers wagered $680 million on "grey market" sports bets -- gambling done on off-shore websites licensed in their own countries but not authorized by U.S. law.

     

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    In a new poll, about 60 percent of voters said traffic is worse now than it was four years ago.

    Massachusetts voters are split on many issues, but a new poll finds that there is one thing the majority agrees on: traffic congestion in the state is growing worse.

    A new voter study conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center and the Boston Globe which surveyed 500 people from around Massachusetts found that nearly 60 percent of Massachusetts voters agree traffic is worse today than it was four years ago.

    About 37 percent of voters said traffic was "Much worse," about 22 percent said "Somewhat worse," and about 5 percent of respondents were undecided or refused to answer. Twelve percent of respondents said traffic was better or somewhat better in Massachusetts than it was four years ago.

    The problem is real: studies have found that in Boston, the average daily round-trip commute is more than one hour. A person who spends their lifetime working in Boston will spend more than 500 days of their lives commuting, a recent study found. Residents are demanding the problem be addressed by state leaders. 

    Research from Northeastern University in Boston and elsewhere has targeted ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft as contributing to congested cities. And while there have been improvements like new train cars and a balanced budget from the MBTA, the system has struggled.

    Common disruptions, problematic service, fare price hikes and parking fee hikes within the last several years have made public transportation a contentious public issue. 

    Power outages force 350 MBTA Blue Line customers onto the tracks during Thursday commute

    In the Suffolk/Globe poll, the majority of voters acknowledge they do not wish to pay more to fund a better transportation system, but public opinion is nearly split.

    Of the 500 survey respondents, 48.4 percent said no, they would not "pay higher taxes or fees, such as increased tolls, to improve the state's transportation system." Meanwhile 44.6 percent said yes, they would pay higher taxes or fees, while 7 percent said they were undecided or refused to answer the question. 

    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Democrat Jay Gonzalez spar over taxes, transportation in 1st debate

    Baker, the Republican governor seeking re-election next month, said his administration has plans to invest $8 billion over five years to improve the MBTA by targeting basic infrastructure needs. 

    But Democratic nominee for governor Jay Gonzalez has campaigned strongly on the issue of transportation, vowing to tax the wealthy and large, private college endowments to help pay for a better MBTA system, which he referred to in a recent debate as "one of worst transportation systems in the country." Gonzalez has criticized Gov. Charlie Baker for moving too slowly on public transportation fixes.

    The majority of survey respondents, 44.6 percent, told researchers with the Suffolk/Globe poll that they oppose Gonzalez's proposal for a 1.6-percent tax on the state's wealthiest endowments across nine schools, while 38.2 percent said they supported it. Seventeen percent of respondents were undecided on the question.


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    A UMass spokeswoman said police took "precautions to protect themselves" in light of a disturbance on campus after the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles in February.

    AMHERST - Police deployed to the University of Massachusetts following the Boston Red Sox' World Series championship-clinching win Sunday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers wore riot gear, apparently in contradiction to recommendations made following the 2014 Blarney Blowout riot.

    Following the 2014 melee, UMass hired former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to review the way the disturbance was handled by police. After studying the response, Davis recommended in his report: "Only when the assembly turns violent or destructive should officers be ordered to don riot gear."

    "After years of trial and error among our team we have learned that the mere presence of riot police can ramp up the tone and tenor of a situation," the Davis report said.

    UMass spokeswoman Mary Dettloff on Monday said UMass, Amherst and state police units who wore riot gear Sunday night took "precautions to protect themselves" in light of a disturbance on campus in February after the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    At the post-Super Bowl gathering, more than 2,000 gathered, seven were arrested and a dozen were injured, including police. Dettloff said one or two officers are still out because of their injuries. Students threw things at police, including a chunk of ice, and refused to disperse.

    Dettloff reported that UMass Police Chief Tyrone Parham said that "police tactics are dependent on each situation." 

    Some were in helmets and some were not Sunday night. "They were wearing helmets out of an abundance of caution and concern for police being struck in the head by something being thrown," Dettloff said. 

    On Sunday night, about 2,000 gathered. "When a crowd is that large it's unpredictable. You don't know what students are going to do," she said. Especially, she said, if they had alcohol. 

    The celebration was peaceful. There were no injuries or arrests, and when told to call it a night, the students dispersed, she said.  

    "We were very pleased (about Sunday night)," Detloff said. "Students were responsible and acted safely."

    UMass has followed the recommendations of the 65-page Davis report when supervising subsequent Blarney Blowouts and other large gatherings. In 2014, the crowd had swelled to an estimated 4,000 and more than 70 were arrested or summonsed to court, although only a fraction were UMass students.

    Since then, the annual March event has been subdued. 

    Edward Davis' Report on... by on Scribd


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    The defendant, wearing a khaki prison jump suit, shackled and surrounded by U.S. marshals, said nothing during the brief hearing. Watch video

    Cesar A. Sayoc Jr., a strident supporter of President Donald Trump charged with orchestrating a mail-bomb campaign against prominent Democrats, will remain in federal custody in south Florida for at least a few more days.

    The 56-year-old Aventura man, arrested Friday on charges of sending at least 14 pipe bombs to  Trump critics, made his first federal court appearance on Monday afternoon before an expected move to New York, where his case will be prosecuted.

    Sayoc, wearing a khaki prison jump suit, shackled and surrounded by U.S. marshals, said nothing during the brief hearing but seemed to be fighting back tears, The Miami Herald reported.

    Sayoc's lawyers asked for more time to prepare a request for possible bond and Magistrate James Edwin Torres agreed to set another detention hearing for Friday. Prosecutors said they would opposed any bond for Sayoc, calling him a danger to the community and a flight risk.

    Among the other recipients of suspicious packagers were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US Attorney General Eric Holder, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Rep. Maxine Waters.

    The Associated Press reported Sayoc had a list of potential targets.

    Hours before the court appearance, police responded to a suspicious package addressed to the CNN Center and intercepted Monday morning at a downtown Atlanta post office.

    The package, according to CNN, appeared to be identical to the other packages authorities say were sent by Sayoc.

    Filmmaker Michael Moore has posted an outtake from his film
    "Farenheit 11/9," which he says shows Sayoc at a February 2017 rally carrying a "CNN Sucks" banner.


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    The suspect was able to enter through a first-floor window after pulling out an air conditioner, said police.

    SPRINGFIELD - Police are seeking the public's help in finding a suspect involved in an Oct. 19 break-in to a home on Olney Avenue in the Pine Point neighborhood.

    The suspect was able to enter through a first-floor window after pulling out an air conditioner, said police spokesman Ryan Walsh.

    Photos from surveillance video supplied by the police show a man climbing through the window. The images on the photos do not show a clear view of the man's face.

    People with information are asked to call the Springfield Police Major Crimes Unit at (413) 787-6355.

    Those who wish to remain anonymous may text a tip via a cell phone by addressing a text message to "CRIMES," or "274637," and then beginning the body of the message with the word "SOLVE."  People can also send a private message through the department's Facebook page.


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    Sessions, speaking in Boston on Monday, strongly denounced the murder of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, even as some protesters outside his speech blamed the Trump administration for creating a climate where hate can flourish.

    BOSTON -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking in Boston on Monday, strongly denounced the murder of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, even as some protesters outside his speech blamed the Trump administration for creating a climate where hate can flourish.

    Sessions, in a speech on religious liberty delivered to the Federalist Society's Boston Lawyers Chapter, said the country is "still reeling" from the murder of the congregants targeted because of their faith.

    "This was not just an attack on the Jewish faith, it was an attack on all people of faith," Sessions said. "It was an attack on America's values of protecting those of faith that cannot and will not be tolerated."

    Sessions noted that the Department of Justice had charged the alleged shooter, Robert Bowers, with 29 counts of federal crimes for the mass shooting. Bowers had posted anti-Semitic threats online and reportedly told law enforcement that he wanted to kill Jews.

    "Charges have already been filed, and we intend to do our duty in this matter with vigor and integrity," Sessions said.

    Outside Sessions' speech at the Omni Parker House in Boston, around 50 protesters gathered.

    Brian Concannon, a human rights lawyer, said he believed the Pittsburgh attack "was clearly incited by the (Trump) administration." 

    "If you look at both the policies and the rhetoric of the administration of always blaming others, including immigrants, including people who help immigrants for the current problems," Concannon said. "If you talk about the tolerance of neo-Nazis and how the right-wing fascist support for the Republican agenda without the Republican Party at all disowning that, the lines are pretty clearly drawn in the direction of what happened on Saturday."

    Bowers wrote on social media that he did not vote for Trump.

    The Rev. Cheryl Kerr of the United Church of Christ also joined the protest. "We are still grieving severe acts of violence against an organization who was practicing their religious liberties," Kerr said. "He represents an administration that has used hateful rhetoric and has not backed organizations practicing their religious liberties." Kerr pointed specifically to actions the Trump administration has taken opposing gay rights.


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    Flags in Massachusetts and around the country will be lowered following the violent killings of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

    Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered flags at state buildings be lowered to half-staff "as a mark of solemn respect" for the 11 victims shot to death at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday.

    Baker's order on Sunday followed the lead of President Donald Trump, who, on Saturday hours after the shooting ordered that flags at federal buildings be flown at half-staff out of respect for the shooting victims. In Massachusetts and at federal buildings across the country, flags are to remain at the half-staff position until sunset on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

    The gubernatorial order in Massachusetts applies to all town or city halls, all state military buildings and other state-owned or operated buildings.

    Authorities release names of 11 people killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

    In a tweet, Gov. Baker said he was "horrified" by the shooting that happened Saturday when suspect Robert Bowers, reported as a quiet man in-person but a hateful xenophobe online who often shared anti-immigrant and anti-Jewish content, allegedly opened fire at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue and killed 11 people

    Trump took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to express similar disgust for the suspect and "the poison of Anti-Semitism."

    On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders held a press conference on behalf of the Trump administration in which she declared the shooter's actions "a chilling act of mass murder."

    "We are a nation that believes in religious liberty, tolerance and respect," Sanders said Monday, adding, "Our nation mourns the loss of these extraordinary Americans."

    Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: Suspect Robert Bowers reportedly posted 'I'm going in' on social media site with anti-Semitic messages

    Sanders announced Trump would visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday, despite the pleas of some local Jewish leaders that the president first publicly denounce white nationalism before visiting.

    In an open letter penned by the Pittsburgh chapter of "Bend the Arc," a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, members laid blame on Trump's words and policies:

    "For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday's violence is the direct culmination of your influence," the letter reads. 

    The letter ends, "President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us."


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    Jeremy Hollins is accused of injuring four police officers. He was shot three times after a chaotic traffic stop and foot pursuit.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Prosecutors plan to call up to 58 witnesses -- including 35 local and state police personnel -- in the upcoming trial of a man shot three times after a chaotic traffic stop and manhunt in West Springfield. 

    At a final pretrial conference Monday for Jeremy Hollins, Hampden Assistant District Attorney James M. Forsyth and defense lawyer Charles Dolan said they are ready for jury selection to start Nov. 5.

    Hollins, 30, of Springfield, has pleaded not guilty to a litany of charges: four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, four counts of malicious damage to a motor vehicle, two counts of leaving the scene of a property damage accident and one count each of operating under the influence of liquor, possession of cocaine, refusing to stop for police and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

    Hollins allegedly rammed police cruisers and tried to run down officers following a traffic stop on April 23, 2017. A foot pursuit ended with him being shot three times -- once in the leg and twice in the shoulder -- outside a West Springfield housing complex.

    Police said he charged officers when they found him hiding in a doorway.

    The final pretrial conference report submitted jointly by Dolan and Forsyth says the estimated trial length is four to six days.

    The prosecution's witness list includes 18 people from the West Springfield Police Department, 17 from the Massachusetts State Police, and 23 other names.

    The narrative to be read by the trial judge to prospective jurors says Hollins is accused injuring West Springfield police officers Joseph Wolowicz, Thomas Sudnick and Nathan O'Brien. He is also charged with seriously injuring West Springfield police officer Cheyene Azadan.

    The short narrative says Hollins is accused of striking multiple police cruisers and striking the vehicle of Miguel Padilla and a building in the Wentworth Estates.

    Assistant District Court Clerk Brian Dolaher said the case will probably be assigned to a judge ahead of the Nov. 5 date so that judge can deal with scheduling and pretrial motions.

    Pretrial motions must be submitted by Friday. 

    On May 4, 2017, his district court arraignment was held at Baystate Medical Center, where he was recovering from his wounds. At the time his bail was set at $10,000 by agreement of lawyers for the prosecution and defense.

    Dolan has said it is a complex case with many shots fired by multiple West Springfield officers.


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    John Tobin was released on $12,500 bail and told to stay away from reported victim.

    PITTFIELD - A New York man pleaded innocent Monday in Berkshire Superior Court to multiple charges related to the rape of a 15-year-old girl over four months earlier this year, according to the office of Berkshire District Attorney Paul Caccaviello.

    John Tobin, 48, of Rensselaer, New York, is charged with six counts of rape and abuse of a child aggravated by age difference, nine counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over age 14, and single counts each of enticing a child, posing a child in the nude, disseminating harmful matter to a child, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

    Judge John Agostini set bail at $12,500, and made his release contingent on Tobin staying away from the girl.

    The charges stem from a series of incidents reported to have happened in Williamstown between Jan. 15 and April 19.

    The investigation by conducted by the Williamstown police and state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney.


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    Auditor Suzanne Bump said Monday that her office will look into overtime trends among state agencies to determine whether it's an area of significant risk, following questions raised by a recent Massachusetts State Police scandal.

    SPRINGFIELD -- Auditor Suzanne Bump said Monday that her office will look into overtime trends among state agencies to determine whether it's an area of significant risk, following questions raised by a recent Massachusetts State Police scandal.

    Bump told The Republican's editorial board that while it's unlikely her office would have caught specific alleged abuses that have come to light regarding overtime payments made to state police officers, she plans to soon examine overtime trends to determine what auditing should occur.

    "We are looking at overtime use  -- or will be in an audit that we will soon start -- looking at trends in overtime use to see what it might tell us about auditing that should be done," she said. "We're going to determine whether this actually is a significant area of risk for the Commonwealth in general, or for which specific state agencies. We will be undertaking that."

    Bump, however, argued that even if her office had looked at issues involving state police Troop F at Logan Airport, which was paid "completely off the books," it would likely not have known such payments were occurring. 

    "Since the payroll system is regarded as being reliable in its operation, had we even looked at that issue we never would've known that F Troop was off the books," she said.

    Holyoke Soldiers' Home correcting overtime, inspection faults, says official; audit fails to address falls

    The auditor, who is up for re-election, added that while her office has previously looked into overtime issues with the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, she doesn't generally "get into looking at the individual circumstances" in such cases.

    She, for example, offered that they "would've never looked to see whether tickets were allegedly given out were actually real or not."

    "It's unlikely that we would have found that, had we been in there unless there was a reason for us to suspect something was wrong. Then, we could've done something more," Bump said. 

    The auditor further noted that once criminal wrongdoing is pointed out, her office must step back because it doesn't have the authority to do forensic auditing.

    If the legislature wants the auditor's office to undertake forensic auditing -- where it looks for evidence of criminal wrongdoing -- however, Bump said she would be open to doing so, if given proper resources.

    After payroll scandals, Massachusetts State Police taps Ernst & Young and seeks overtime reductions

    The Massachusetts State Police hired consulting firm Ernst & Young in response to the scandal, which has yielded investigations of more than 40 current and former troopers for alleged overtime abuse.

    Ernst & Young is auditing and assessing the state police's policies, protocols and record management systems.

    Bump will face Republican Helen Brady, Libertarian candidate Daniel Fishman and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Edward Stamas in the Nov. 6 general election.


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    The crash came two years after Bilger was found guilty of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol in Maine, court records show.

    NORTHAMPTON -- Nicholas Bilger had two explanations for why his car had just slammed into a police cruiser on a narrow road in Easthampton, injuring two officers and a police dog.

    "Sorry for hitting your car, but I have to go to work," Bilger said after colliding head-on with the cruiser Wednesday night, according to the arrest report.

    Minutes later, he offered another explanation.

    "I had to get out of there. There was a big fight and they were going to beat me up," he said, according to the report.

    Neither explanation helped Bilger avoid arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, second offense, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle), speeding, reckless driving, driving without a license, driving an uninsured vehicle, driving an unregistered vehicle and several other charges.

    Bilger, 24, of Easthampton, denied the charges Thursday in Northampton District Court and was released on personal recognizance with a series of conditions. Neither Bilger, the officers nor the police dog suffered serious injuries in the crash.

    The trouble began when Easthampton police received a complaint around 10:30 p.m. about loud partying near the bridge on Old Springfield Road. Approaching the bridge on the narrow road, the officers saw a car skidding around a corner and driving directly at them, the report said.

    "There was nowhere for me to go to avoid the accident so the car slammed violently into my cruiser, subsequently bouncing off and coming to rest in the woods," Officer Andrew Beaulieu wrote.

    Bilger's breath smelled of alcohol and he performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the report said. Following his arrest, his blood alcohol level was measured at 0.18, more than twice the legal limit.

    Beaulieu, the department's K-9 officer, and part-time reserve officer Kevin Moskal suffered minor injuries in the crash, and the department's dog, Gino, was shaken up when an air bag activated, slamming him into the side of his cage, the report said.

    Bilger was bleeding from his back and neck, but refused treatment when an ambulance arrived.

    The crash came two years after Bilger was found guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol in Maine, court records show. 

    He is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 21.


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    Stacks of rail ties, scraps of metal and wood, a pile of motor vehicle tires and other trash were visible at the site in Holyoke, Massachusetts Monday afternoon.

    HOLYOKE -- The Fire Department will contact the state about more stacks of rail ties and other debris piled near railroad tracks behind the C-Town Supermarket on Cabot Street where a fire occurred in 2015, an official said Monday.

    "I'll have an inspector take a closer look at what's left back there," Fire Chief John A. Pond said after The Republican texted photos of the debris.

    The state Department of Transportation (DOT) removed wooden rail ties and other scraps from the site in January 2017. That came after Fire Department complaints and Pond saying that such heaps "pose a significant hazard not only from a fire load perspective, but also carcinogens (from chemicals that treat the rail ties) and environmental conditions."

    State removes piles of rail ties in Holyoke fire chief called 'hazard,' site of 2015 blaze (photos)

    A fire that began just after midnight on Nov. 24, 2015 at the site in one of the piles of rail ties kept firefighters busy for more than five hours and required two responses later that day to extinguish flare ups. The cause of that fire was undetermined but might have been related to a homeless person sleeping near the stack of ties, officials said.

    A DOT spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

    The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said Monday that Pan Am Railways and Boston & Maine Corp. would be fined $90,000 for failing to remove stacks of rail ties in Greenfield, Hatfield and Buckland.

    Railroad companies fined $90,000 for failing to remove rail ties in Greenfield, Hatfield, Buckland

    At the Holyoke site, stacks of rail ties, scraps of metal and wood, a pile of motor vehicle tires and other trash were visible Monday afternoon.

    Pond said the Fire Department told the DOT that materials left on site for ongoing work had to be in a solid stack.

    "Solid stacked materials do not have voids, eliminating the free flow of air through combustible products," he said.

    A common chemical wood preservative applied to railroad ties is creosote, the burning of which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said should be avoided because of the "possible inhalation of toxic chemicals in the smoke and ash." 

    The "rough cut" logs used as ties in the railroad industry's infancy have given way to uniform beams that each weigh 145 pounds to 200 pounds, are 8 inches to 10 inches thick and are 8 feet to 10 feet long.

    The beams -- known as crossties, railroad ties, or sleepers -- usually are made from wood and provide the lateral support to anchor railroad tracks for trains to pass over. They usually are made of oak, cherry, chestnut, elm, hemlock, hickory and walnut.


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    Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    Here are the obituaries published Monday in The Republican:

    Obituaries from The Republican, Oct. 29, 2018

     

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    Both candidates for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts said Monday that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat, should not have hired a former state representative convicted of violence against a woman.

    Both candidates for lieutenant governor said Monday that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a Democrat, should not have hired a former state representative convicted of violence against a woman. 

    Carlos Henriquez, a Dorchester Democrat, was expelled from the House and sentenced to six months in jail for punching a woman who refused to have sex with him. The Boston Globe reported that Walsh hired Henriquez into an $89,000-a-year job as a special assistant for community engagement working on issues including anti-violence. 

    WGBH host Jim Braude asked Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Democratic challenger Quentin Palfrey whether Walsh should have made that hire.

    Polito first said it is up to the mayor to decide. But when pressed, she said, "That would not be a hire I would support for my administration. We have zero tolerance policy within the executive branch. I encourage all workplaces to have a zero tolerance policy."

    Polito worried that hiring someone like Henriquez could make it harder for women who are assaulted to feel comfortable coming forward in their workplaces.

    Palfrey said he had not studied the allegations against Henriquez, but "it looks troubling to me."

    "It's important we believe women and stand up against sexual assault," Palfrey said.

    (A Walsh spokeswoman told the Globe that the mayor "believes in second chances.")

    That was perhaps the only point of agreement in the contentious debate for lieutenant governor, broadcast on the WGBH show "Greater Boston." It was the only debate between Polito, running for a second term on the ticket with Gov. Charlie Baker, and Palfrey, a former Obama aide.

    From the start, Palfrey tried to tie Polito to Republican President Donald Trump's administration, citing her and Baker's support for U.S. Senate candidate Geoff Diehl. Diehl, a Republican challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, led Trump's Massachusetts campaign.

    Asked about the need for more gun control laws in the wake of a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Palfrey said there is more to do.

    "In the era of Trump, it is really important for Massachusetts to lead on fighting back against the Trump administration and the NRA," Palfrey said. "Saying we should replace Elizabeth Warren with Trump's chairman ... is pointing in the wrong direction."

    Polito said she and Baker have a "solid record" on gun control, including signing a ban on bump stocks and signing a law allowing a judge to temporarily take someone's gun if they pose a danger to themselves or others.

    Polito said although she and Baker are supporting the Republican ticket, they did not vote for Trump, and they have opposed the Trump administration on issues like immigration and health care. "We didn't feel he had the right temperament for the position," Polito said. "When we had the opportunity to stand up to the Trump administration, we did so."

    Asked whether Trump's inflammatory rhetoric leads to political violence, Polito said the president's words and tweets "in many instances are more divisive than they are unifying."

    "I think there is polarization on a national level, on the extreme right and extreme left," Polito said, contrasting the national landscape with what she described as the "civility" and bipartisanship of the Baker administration.

    Palfrey said rather than equating extremism on the left and right, there is something different about the "cruelty" of the Trump administration, for example the former policy of separating children from their parents at the border when they entered the country illegally.

    Palfrey said those actions "incite the kind of violence we've seen."

    Palfrey said Polito cannot distance herself from Trump while also supporting Diehl. "We need to stand up and fight back against the Trump administration, and I don't believe the Baker-Polito administration have done so," Palfrey said.

    Palfrey also said Baker and Polito "have a track record of fighting against LGBTQ rights," citing Polito's opposition to gay marriage while in the Legislature and Baker's opposition in 2010 to expanding anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. 

    Polito said she "evolved" on the issue of gay marriage. (Baker, who supports gay marriage, ultimately signed the law expanding protections for transgender people in 2016. He is actively opposing its repeal.)

    "It's a good thing to be able to change," Polito said.

    Palfrey responded that Baker and Polito continue to campaign and fundraise for the socially conservative state Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, and the national Republican Party.


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    "Inspector Clouseau could have detected this," Amore said, referring to the bumbling fictional character portrayed in the "Pink Panther" movie series. Watch video

    The fallout over a signature-forging controversy in the Hampden County register of deeds race continues, seeping into a statewide contest as Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin's Republican challenger seized on the issue.

    Galvin challenger Anthony Amore held a press conference Monday at a local GOP campaign office, where he denounced recent revelations that dozens of signatures were apparently forged on register of deeds Democratic candidate Cheryl Coakley-Rivera's nomination papers.

    Coakley-Rivera's challenger, Longmeadow attorney Marie Angelides, raised the issue and provided The Republican with a stack of nomination papers with dozens of voter names logged in apparently identical penmanship.

    Nomination papers to appear on the ballot were due in late May, and the narrow window to challenge the validity of signatures expired June 1.

    "What's more disturbing is these questionable signatures may run into the hundreds and were certified," Amore said, also criticizing a Springfield election commissioner's disclosure that Galvin's office discourages election officials from becoming "handwriting experts" or "going Columbo" when certifying signatures.

    Each candidate was required to collect a minimum of 1,000 signatures to appear on the ballot.

    "Inspector Clouseau could have detected this," Amore said, referring to the bumbling fictional character portrayed in the "Pink Panther" movie series. "I think Marie Angelides has suffered a grave disservice in her campaign. It's a disservice to the people of Massachusetts."

    Amore called on Galvin to fix the "signature fiasco" in Hampden County.

    The GOP candidate also highlighted the potential penalties for forging signatures on nomination papers, printed in bold on each form.

    "Criminal penalty for unlawfully signing, altering, defacing, mutilating, destroying or suppressing this petition: fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to a year," the forms read.

    Reached for comment, Galvin said any candidate or any citizen has the right to challenge signatures within a certain window of time -- which expired months ago.

    "The idea that there's been some failure on my part or my office's part is simply untrue," he said. "Neither I nor anyone working under me has the authority to throw out signatures."

    The only authority allowed by state law to disqualify signatures or candidates based on faulty signatures is a five-member gubernatorial panel called the State Ballot Law Commission. It is composed of a retired judge and four other appointees named by the governor, Galvin said.

    "The deadline to submit these signatures passed in late May or early June. Six weeks have passed since the primary. My office hasn't heard anything about it," Galvin said. "It gets a little questionable at this point. If her objective is to root out fraud, then we're all for it ... What we don't do is try to create investigations that influence the outcomes of elections."

    Galvin added that his office's stance on fraud has been strong and crosses party lines.

    "We go right down the middle on these things," he said, noting that his office referred a voter fraud case that ensnared Enrico Villamaino III in 2012. Villamaino, an East Longmeadow Republican running for state representative, was caught changing voter affiliations and stuffing ballot boxes to advance his bid for the seat.

    His opponent: Angelides. She won in the Republican primary but was ultimately bested by her Democratic opponent, state Rep. Brian Ashe, who still holds that seat. Ashe's father, the late Donald Ashe, died of cancer amid a bid for a seventh term as Hampden County register of deeds -- leaving Coakley-Rivera as the only Democratic candidate on the ballot.

    She handily beat Donald Ashe Jr., who tried to run a sticker campaign after his father's death in July.

    Villamaino pleaded guilty to 11 counts of voter fraud and was sentenced to four months in jail.

    Galvin also pointed to the 2013 federal prosecution of former state Rep. Stephen "Stat" Smith, an Everett Democrat also charged with voter fraud and sentenced to four months in prison.

    Meanwhile, Angelides has called for Springfield Elections Commissioner Gladys Oyola to recuse herself from the election because Oyola worked for Coakley-Rivera as a legislative aide.

    Coakley-Rivera was the state representative for the 10th Hampden District between 1999 and 2014. She is now an assistant clerk in Hampden Superior Court.

    Oyola said while she did work as an aide to Coakley-Rivera, she took her own oath of office in 2010 and her former boss ran for public office subsequently.

    "It's never been an issue before. This is the first I'm hearing of this," Oyola said on Monday.

    While not addressing the signatures directly, Coakley-Rivera characterized the mini-uproar over her signature sheets as a "campaign stunt." Coakley-Rivera said she had hundreds of volunteers gathering signatures for her in the spring and gathered more than enough signatures to get on the ballot.

    Angelides fired back that Coakley-Rivera was not acknowledging the import of the potential of voter fraud.

    "This is not a 'campaign stunt' as Ms. Coakley Rivera stated, but a very serious issue that needs to be addressed. Let's ask the affected individuals, including those who came forward and provided testimony, whether they thought identity theft, forgery, and fraud are a 'stunt'?" Angelides said in a statement.

    In a story about the signature irregularities published by The Republican, three Longmeadow voters said unequivocally that their names had been forged on nomination papers. They included a local eye surgeon, general counsel for Western New England University and a lifelong Republican who told a reporter she would have never offered her signature for a Democratic candidate.

    "Whoever did this is awfully stupid," Maureen Beattie said during a previous interview.

    Angelides' camp has since reported the number of voters who have cried foul has grown to more than a dozen.

    Galvin said the matter is now one for the Hampden district attorney or state attorney general's offices.

    "(Angelides) obviously failed to do anything at the appropriate time ... At this point she'd be asking us for, I don't know what," he said. "All I've seen are press conferences so far."


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