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- 05/24/18--14:07: _Gov. Charlie Baker ...
- 05/24/18--14:10: _Starbucks at Spring...
- 05/24/18--14:09: _MGM Springfield rep...
- 05/24/18--14:37: _Westfield City Coun...
- 05/24/18--15:17: _Calling Mount Ida a...
- 05/24/18--15:29: _MassDEP offers take...
- 05/24/18--15:47: _'I felt paranoia, p...
- 05/24/18--15:39: _Springfield police ...
- 05/24/18--15:43: _Senate passes amend...
- 05/24/18--16:47: _State rep. files bi...
- 05/24/18--16:56: _TV ads laud Gov. Ch...
- 05/24/18--17:14: _Obituaries from The...
- 05/24/18--18:56: _NRA host calls for ...
- 05/24/18--18:51: _Seen@ Hampden Count...
- 05/24/18--19:39: _Seen@ Chicopee Moos...
- 05/24/18--14:07: Gov. Charlie Baker would veto Senate immigration measure
- 05/24/18--14:09: MGM Springfield reports continued success in diversity hiring
- 05/24/18--15:29: MassDEP offers takeback program for toxic firefighting foam
- 05/24/18--16:47: State rep. files bill to expel Judge Thomas Estes from court
- 05/24/18--17:14: Obituaries from The Republican, May 24, 2018
- 05/24/18--19:39: Seen@ Chicopee Moose Family Center Car Show
Gov. Charlie Baker would veto a Senate budget provision limiting state law enforcement's role in enforcement of federal immigration laws, he said Thursday.
By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 24, 2018...Gov. Charlie Baker would veto a Senate budget provision limiting state law enforcement's role in enforcement of federal immigration laws, he said Thursday.
The measure - a pared-down version of the so-called Safe Communities legislation - passed the Senate 25-13 and was added to the Senate's fiscal 2019 budget bill late Wednesday night.
"I don't support it and I would veto it if it ends up coming to my desk," Baker said after a Memorial Day event on Boston Common. "I've said many times that I think decisions like this belong with local law enforcement."
The provision would bar state and local police from inquiring into someone's immigration status and prevent collaborations known as 287G agreements where state and county officials are essentially deputized by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Department of Correction officials would be able to continue those agreements under the provision. The legislation would require state and local officials to share immigration documents with individuals within their custody and inform them that they do not need to talk to federal immigration officials.
In his remarks Thursday, Baker spoke out against legislation prohibiting communication between ICE and local officials.
"I do not believe the state should be stepping into this. And I especially don't believe that we should pass legislation that makes it impossible for the state of Massachusetts - with criminals who are currently in our prisons and have been convicted of terrible crimes and may be here illegally - that we should not be allowed to talk to the feds. I think that's ridiculous and outrageous and I don't support it," Baker said.
An Acton Democrat, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, the sponsor of the amendment, said prohibiting communication between ICE and local officials is not part of the provision adopted in the Senate on Wednesday. Eldridge suggested that the governor has not actually read the amendment and said he is "troubled" by the Republican governor's rhetoric about unauthorized immigrants.
"His language has been very much in line with Donald Trump's rhetoric regarding undocumented immigrants," Eldridge told the News Service, saying, "I hope he reads the amendment."
The amendment (#1147) states, "Nothing in this section shall prohibit or restrain the commonwealth, any political subdivision thereof, or any employee or agent of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, from sending to, or receiving from, any local, state, or federal agency, information regarding citizenship or immigration status, consistent with Section 1373 of Title 8 of the United States Code."
"Governor Baker opposes a sanctuary state and this amendment does not address the issue of creating clear guidelines for state and local law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials to detain violent and dangerous criminals convicted of heinous crimes like rape and murder, as the governor's legislation would," communications director Elizabeth Guyton said. Last summer, Baker filed legislation (H 3870) that would allow state officials to honor detainer requests from ICE.
Senators debated the issue Wednesday night, and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr predicted Eldridge's proposal "won't be considered by the House, would be rejected by the governor and is not viable in this building."
House Speaker Robert DeLeo has previously said the House lacks consensus on how to address the interplay between immigration officials and state and local law enforcement, and on Thursday he indicated that dynamic remains the same.
"Not a whole lot has changed in terms of the general feelings of the members," DeLeo told reporters on Thursday after the Memorial Day event. He said, "Sure, things can change but as of right now that is not one of the issues I have been hearing from members about."
The Supreme Judicial Court changed how state law enforcement interacts with federal immigration agents when the court ruled last July that state officials cannot detain someone solely at the request of ICE.
"The prudent course is not for this court to create, and attempt to define, some new authority for court officers to arrest that heretofore has been unrecognized and undefined," the court wrote in its unsigned opinion in Commonwealth v. Sreynuon Lunn. "The better course is for us to defer to the Legislature to establish and carefully define that authority if the Legislature wishes that to be the law of this Commonwealth."
Touting what he called a "strong vote" on the proposal Wednesday, Eldridge said he is optimistic about the proposal gaining traction.
"I think it's really just the beginning," Eldridge said. He said, "We'll see what happens in the conference committee."
The coffee chain will have an outdoor patio on Main Street.
SPRINGFIELD -- The new Starbucks in Monarch Place opens at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, May 30, building owner Paul Picknelly said Thursday.
Workers were training this week in the new downtown store at the corner of Main Street and Boland Way.
The coffee shop will donate all proceeds from its first week of business to The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center. The money will go toward a new educational exhibit featuring two African cats, Picknelly said.
"We are so thankful to Paul Picknelly, a wonderful community partner who is truly committed to this city and the region," said Sarah Tsitso, the zoo's new executive director. "This collaboration demonstrates how growth begets growth. The successful opening of a new Starbucks at Monarch Place will help the zoo expand its collection, enhancing our conservation and education efforts. With the zoo approaching its 125th year, we could not be more grateful that this new Starbucks will help us grow and evolve."
Starbucks is the final phase of the newly renovated plaza at Monarch following a new United Bank branch next door.
Monarch Place has also replaced the patio and repaired a fountain, with plans to turn it back on.
The Starbucks will occupy the remaining portion of the old Bank of America office. Bank of America closed the branch in 2016 as part of a nationwide thinning of its office network.
United Bank opened in January its downtown Springfield branch into 2,400 square feet -- or about half -- of the former Bank of America space.
Starbucks occupies the front corner of the plaza. Its space has 30-foot-tall ceilings and features a 400-pound, 10-foot medallion by artist Llew Majia. The commissioned piece celebrates the diversity of Latin American coffee-growing countries.
There will also be an outdoor patio on Main Street.
Cornerstone Cafe, a coffee, soup and sandwich shop in Monarch Place, will continue operating.
Starbucks already has a location a few blocks from Monarch Place at 1089 East Columbus Ave.
MGM Springfield, in its latest quarterly report, said it continued to exceed its goals for diversity hiring and contracting for the $960 million casino project.
SPRINGFIELD -- MGM Springfield, preparing to open its casino on Aug. 24, presented its latest quarterly report on Thursday, including statistics showing that it continues to exceed its goals for diversity hiring and contracting for the $960 million construction project.
The report, for the three months ending March 31, was shared with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a meeting in Boston.
Commission member Gayle Cameron praised the latest report, saying it continues past trends.
"You are consistently good with your diversity numbers," Cameron said. "It's always encouraging to see."
Statistics for the various subcontractors working on the project show that 21.43 percent of the workforce are minorities compared with the project goal of at least 15.3 percent, said Brian Packer, MGM Springfield's vice president of construction and development.
In addition, 8.86 percent of the workforce are women, compared with the goal of 6.9 percent, and 9.63 percent are veterans compared with the goal of 8 percent, Packer said.
Regarding construction and design commitments, 21.7 percent have gone to women-owned businesses, as compared with the project goal of 10 percent, Packer said.
Further, 7.9 percent of the commitments have gone to minority-owned businesses, compared with the goal of 5 percent, and 6.7 percent of the commitments have gone to veteran-owned businesses, as compared with the goal of 2 percent, he said.
MGM Springfield listed 109 companies that have done construction work on the casino, and 42 companies that have done design and consulting work. Of the construction companies, 79 are from Massachusetts.
MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis told the Gaming Commission that hiring efforts for casino operations are going well.
The company invited 700 job seekers to the MassMutual Center on May 8-9 for the first two of four mass-hiring events, with additional events scheduled in June.
Mathis said there is a strong focus on hiring of Springfield residents for casino jobs, with a goal of at least 35 percent local hiring.
He said the hiring process is "exciting times," as the the filling of 3,000 jobs gives a sense of what MGM is trying to do to promote economic development and is "changing lives."
Flaherty previously voted against the bond but said the Council's due diligence and the explanation by local experts changed his mind
WESTFIELD - City Councilor Dave Flaherty said today he would vote in favor of a $13 million bond to address water contamination and other water needs in the city.
His decision means the measure is likely to pass when it comes back before the council next month. It failed by one vote May 4, with Flaherty and four other councilors opposed.
Flaherty posted remarks publicly on the Westfield Community Forum Facebook group Thursday. The forum administrator created a poll asking which of the councilors who voted no -- Flaherty, Daniel Allie, Matthew Emmershy, Nicholas J. Morganelli Jr. and Andrew K. Surprise -- users thought would change their vote. Flaherty checked himself as a "yes" vote.
"We really did our due diligence on this," he told The Republican. "We spent a lot of time and took a lot of guff from people who, for one reason or another, thought we were not cooperating or intentionally trying to play political games. That is far from the truth. We had legitimate reasons for investigating all options before proceeding on something so important to the city."
Wells 2, 7 and 8 on the north side of the city are offline due to higher than acceptable levels of PFOS and PFAS contaminants, which the city says came from firefighting foam used at Barnes Air National Guard Base. The city is pursuing legal action against manufacturers of the foam as well as seeking funds from the Department of Defense.
Flaherty said he expects there will be other "yes" votes.
"There will likely be several yeses. I'll be one of them. We have truly fully investigated the options, and filtering our water is the answer," Flaherty wrote on the forum. "The filters take out the bad stuff we have, and the bad stuff that could reasonably be expected in the future (given that we have an airport, businesses, farms, golf courses, and homes over the aquifer). Connecting to Holyoke's reservoir is a possibility, and would be option #2, but it's a 4-6-year plan and it would cost us at least double what the filtration at wells 7 and 8 will cost. Plus, we'd have to buy the water and run a treatment plant which has significantly higher annual operating costs. The last option would be find new well sources. However, again this is a three-plus year project, would cost a lot, and we'd need several of them to make-up the volume of 7 and 8 (7 and 8 produce about 2 million gallons per day each, whereas the best new well that was found could only do 1/2 million per day). There are substantial legal, environmental, and regulatory challenges to opening-up new wells. "
Flaherty voted down the bond request May 4 mainly because of concerns about the high contamination levels in Wells 7 and 8. Following a four-hour discussion Tuesday with local experts on the situation, Flaherty said he feels more confident that the granular carbon filtration systems covered in the bond would do the job.
Flaherty said Mayor Brian P. Sullivan, the Department of Public Works and other experts did "a great job" responding to questions during the discussion.
"I think they explained the options very well and answered questions that seemed to be lingering in people's minds for weeks," he said. "Good job all around. The residents and business owners are better off because we took the time to make sure we were doing this the right way. By late July, the water from well 2 will be filtered, and by late next spring we expect wells 7 and 8 to be back online at full production levels delivering clean water to everyone."
Flaherty said changing from a "no" to a "yes" vote was the result of hours of research and discussion.
"After four plus months of listening to all the arguments, all the experts, holding several public meetings, asking hundreds of questions, and reading hundreds of pages of documents from various experts, advocates, and opponents, I'm convinced that the GAC filtration will lower the levels of many contaminants - including PFAS - to zero or non-detectable (less than two parts per trillion)," Flaherty said. "The proposed system has flexibility and redundancy built in. The filters can be monitored on a high-frequency schedule, and potential failures will be detected well in advance of any'"breakthrough' (when some small amount of contaminant could pass thru into the water system). When filters get close to end of useful life, the filtration facility just turns on the next filter pack and swaps out the filtration material. This doesn't take long, and though there is a cost involved, it's rather insignificant in total cost of filtering the water (think thousandths of a penny per gallon). If in the future some other pollutant shows up in our water, or a better filtration material is developed, this filtration facility can add or remove vessels and swap out the filtration material rather easily."
Flaherty addressed concerns about cost and said the filtration cost is on par with similar projects.
"Anything the government does is expensive, $7 million for a filtration plant is right in line with other projects of similar complexity," Flaherty said. "The water rates - not the tax rates - will increase slightly for a couple of years. Our water rates are very very low - roughly $3.65 per 1000 gallons - that's less than four small bottles of water from the convenience store. Again, the cost to filter vs do nothing is in the hundredths of a penny per gallon (including the capital costs to build the facility) - hardly a number anyone should complain about to have clean safe water. I know we don't want to pay for somebody else polluting our water. And, I agree 100% with people who have that concern. However, we can't live with polluted water, and we can't wait 5-20 years for lawsuits to work their way through the courts."
The request remains in the Legislative and Ordinance subcommittee. Chairman Ralph J. Figy said he expects the measure will go to the full council at its next regular meeting June 7.
Massachusetts should take an aggressive stance to prevent another abrupt college closure, as happened to Mount Ida, the small private institution in Newton, Mass., Attorney General Maura Healey said.
Massachusetts should take an aggressive stance to prevent another abrupt college closure, as happened to Mount Ida, the small private institution in Newton, Mass., Attorney General Maura Healey said.
Healey said a new office of financial oversight should be created within the state Department of Higher Education.
"The Mount Ida closure is a wake-up call," Healey said in a statement.
"We need to take proactive steps to prevent future chaos and financial harm to students, parents, faculty, and staff. Our experience working with Mount Ida students confirms that we need better oversight and accountability."
Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers should fund the office to "help the Department work with schools, accreditors, and other agencies to protect students and families," she added.
State higher education officials, including Baker's education chief Jim Peyser and Commissioner Carlos Santiago, said on May 1 that they plan to announce within 30 days regulatory or legislative changes to better prevent another Mount Ida.
The Mount Ida closure left angry parents and students scrambling for ways to finish their college education.
Healey is continuing to investigate whether officials at Mount Ida violated state law in their rush to close the school.
Healey's office said that state regulators shouldn't be learning about a college closure from media outlets. MassLive first reported UMass and Mount Ida were in acquisition talks on April 4, two days before the two institutions announced a deal that had UMass Amherst purchasing the 74-acre campus.
Schools should have contingency plans in order for students to transfer in the event of a closure and enough in cash reserves to close in an orderly way, according to Healey's office.
Warning signs of a closing school include getting identified as financially at-risk by the US Department of Education, low credit ratings or inadequate cash reserves, or high numbers of graduates unable to repay their loans, Healey's office said.
Fire departments are asked to set aside any stockpiles pre-2003 foam, which contains PFOA and PFOS. The chemicals have contaminated groundwater across the country.
BOSTON -- State officials are asking local fire departments to take inventory of any stockpiles of toxic firefighting foam that might still be in their possession.
A funded take-back program will send a contractor to dispose of any pre-2003 foam which contain perfluorinated compounds. The compounds, known as PFOA and PFOS, have contaminated groundwater and drinking water sources across the country.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services to run the program. Fire departments are urged to check in by June 15, and may call Nick Child at (617) 574-6847.
"We strongly recommend that fire departments take advantage of this program," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
Locally, Westfield has sued 3M, Chemguard, and Tyco -- manufacturers of firefighting foam linked to groundwater contamination. The city also filed a Notice of Tort Claim against the United States Air Force, a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.
The foam was used at the Barnes Air National Guard Base and the Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport for firefighter training.
PFOS and PFOA exposure "could result in health effects including, but not limited to, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants, liver effects, immune effects and thyroid effects," according to the city's complaint in U.S. District Court.
In Westfield, tests showed the emerging contaminants in city wells. Westfield is struggling with how to pay for the cleanup as the City Council considers a $13 million bond request from Mayor Brian P. Sullivan.
Manufacturers stopped making the suspect foams in 2002. Now they make "more fluorine-stable and fluorine-free" firefighting foams with less impact, according to MassDEP.
One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, "I absolutely just loved altering my mind."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, "I absolutely just loved altering my mind."
Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in America's arsenal. Air Force records obtained by The Associated Press show they bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months on a highly secure military base in Wyoming. After investigators closed in, one airman deserted to Mexico.
"Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't," said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial.
A slipup on social media by one airman enabled investigators to crack the drug ring at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in March 2016, details of which are reported here for the first time. Fourteen airmen were disciplined. Six of them were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both.
None of the airmen was accused of using drugs on duty. Yet it's another blow to the reputation of the Air Force's nuclear missile corps, which is capable of unleashing hell in the form of Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The corps has struggled at times with misbehavior, mismanagement and low morale.
Although seen by some as a backwater of the U.S. military, the missile force has returned to the spotlight as President Donald Trump has called for strengthening U.S. nuclear firepower and exchanged threats last year with North Korea. The administration's nuclear strategy calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending in coming decades.
The service members accused of involvement in the LSD ring were from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand "on alert" 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains.
Documents obtained by the AP over the past two years through the Freedom of Information Act tell a sordid tale of off-duty use of LSD, cocaine and other drugs in 2015 and 2016 by airmen who were supposed to be held to strict behavioral standards because of their role in securing the weapons.
"It's another black eye for the Air Force -- for the ICBM force in particular," says Stephen Schwartz, an independent consultant and nuclear expert.
In response to AP inquiries, an Air Force spokesman, Lt. Col. Uriah L. Orland, said the drug activity took place during off-duty hours. "There are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely and effectively," he said.
Airman 1st Class Tommy N. Ashworth was among those who used LSD supplied by colleagues with connections to civilian drug dealers.
"I felt paranoia, panic" for hours after taking a hit of acid, Ashworth said under oath at his court martial. He confessed to using LSD three times while off duty. The first time, in the summer of 2015, shook him up. "I didn't know if I was going to die that night or not," he said as a witness at another airman's drug trial. Recalling another episode with LSD, he said it felt "almost as if I was going to have like a heart attack or a heat stroke."
Airman Basic Kyle S. Morrison acknowledged at his court martial that under the influence of LSD he could not have responded if recalled to duty in a nuclear security emergency.
In prosecuting the cases at F.E. Warren, the Air Force asserted that LSD users can experience "profound effects" from even small amounts. It said common psychological effects include "paranoia, fear and panic, unwanted and overwhelming feelings, unwanted life-changing spiritual experiences, and flashbacks."
It's unclear how long before being on duty any of the airmen had taken LSD, which stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. The drug became popularized as "acid" in the 1960s, and views since then have been widely split on its mental health risks. Although illegal in the U.S., it had been showing up so infrequently in drug tests across the military that in December 2006 the Pentagon eliminated LSD screening from standard drug-testing procedures. An internal Pentagon memo at the time said that over the previous three years only four positive specimens had been identified in 2.1 million specimens screened for LSD.
Yet Air Force investigators found those implicated in the F.E. Warren drug ring used LSD on base and off, at least twice at outdoor gatherings. Some also snorted cocaine and used ecstasy. Civilians joined them in the LSD use, including some who had recently left Air Force service, according to two officials with knowledge of the investigation. The Air Force declined to discuss this.
Airman 1st Class Nickolos A. Harris, said to be the leader of the drug ring, testified that he had no trouble getting LSD and other drugs from civilian sources. He pleaded guilty to using and distributing LSD and using ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.
He acknowledged using LSD eight times and distributing LSD multiple times to fellow airmen at parties in Denver and other locations from spring 2015 to early 2016.
"I absolutely just loved altering my mind," he told the military judge, blaming his decisions to use hallucinogens and other drugs on his addictive personality.
Other airmen testified it was easy to obtain LSD in a liquid form spread on small tabs of perforated white paper. Airmen ingested at least one tab by placing it on their tongue. In one episode summarized by a military judge at Harris' court martial, he and other airmen watched YouTube videos and "then went longboarding on the streets of Denver while high on LSD."
Harris was sentenced to 12 months in jail and other penalties, but under a pretrial agreement he avoided a punitive discharge. The lead prosecutor in that case, Air Force Capt. C. Rhodes Berry, had argued Harris should be locked up for 42 months, including nine months for the "aggravating circumstance" of undercutting public trust by using hallucinogens and other drugs on a nuclear weapons base.
"I cannot think of anything more aggravating than being the ringleader of a drug ring on F.E. Warren Air Force Base," Berry said at the courts martial.
In all, the AP obtained transcripts of seven courts martial proceedings, plus related documents. They provide vivid descriptions of LSD trips.
"I'm dying!" one airman is quoted as exclaiming, followed by "When is this going to end?" during a "bad trip" on LSD in February 2016 at Curt Gowdy State Park, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Cheyenne, where F.E. Warren is located. A portion of that episode was video-recorded by one member of the group; a transcript of the audio was included in court records.
Others said they enjoyed the drug.
"Minutes felt like hours, colors seemed more vibrant and clear," Morrison testified. "In general, I felt more alive." He said he had used LSD in high school, which could have disqualified him from Air Force service; he said that his recruiter told him he should lie about it and that lying about prior drug use was "normal" in the Air Force.
At his court martial, Morrison acknowledged distributing LSD on the missile base in February 2016. A month later, when summoned for questioning by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Morrison confessed and became an informant for the agency, an arrangement the Air Force said yielded legally admissible evidence against 10 other airmen. Under a pretrial agreement, he agreed to testify against other airmen and avoided a punitive discharge. He was sentenced to five months' confinement, 15 days of hard labor and loss of $5,200 in pay.
Most of the airmen involved were members of two related security units at F.E. Warren -- the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron and the 90th Security Forces Squadron. Together, they are responsible for the security and defense of the nuclear weapons there as well as the missile complex.
By coincidence, the No. 2 Pentagon official at the time, Robert Work, visited F.E. Warren one month before the drug investigation became public. Accompanied by an AP reporter, he watched as airmen of the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron -- whose members at the time included Harris, the accused leader of the drug ring -- demonstrated how they would force their way into and regain control of a captured missile silo.
Work, the deputy defense secretary, was there to assess progress in fixing problems in the ICBM force identified by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who ordered an investigation after the AP reported on personnel, resource, training and leadership problems in 2013-14. Those problems included the firing of the general in charge of the entire ICBM force for inappropriate behavior the Air Force said was linked to alcohol abuse. A month later the AP revealed that an unpublished study prepared for the Air Force found "burnout" among nuclear missile launch officers and evidence of broader behavioral problems, including sexual assaults and domestic violence. Air Force officials say the force has since rebounded.
In an interview, Work said he was not aware during his visit that anything was amiss. Nor was he briefed later on the investigation. He said he wouldn't have expected to be briefed unless the Air Force found that LSD or other illegal drugs were a "systemic problem" for the nuclear force, beyond the security forces group at F.E. Warren.
Work said he had never heard of LSD use anywhere in the nuclear workforce.
For the inexperienced members of the drug ring, Harris, the ringleader, had set out several "rules" for LSD use at a gathering of several airmen in a Cheyenne apartment in late 2015 that was recorded on video. Rule No. 1: "No social media at all." He added: "No bad trips. Everybody's happy right now. Let's keep it that way."
But social media proved their undoing. In March 2016, one member posted a Snapchat video of himself smoking marijuana, setting Air Force investigators on their trail.
As the investigators closed in, one of the accused, Airman 1st Class Devin R. Hagarty, grabbed a backpack and cash, text-messaged his mother that he loved her, turned off his cellphone and fled to Mexico. "I started panicking," he told a military judge after giving himself up and being charged with desertion.
The Air Force said Hagarty was the first convicted deserter from an ICBM base since January 2013. In court, he admitted using LSD four times in 2015-16 and distributing it once, and he said he had deserted with the intention of never returning. He also admitted to using cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana multiple times. He was sentenced to 13 months in a military jail.
In all, disciplinary action was taken against 14 airmen. In addition, two accused airmen were acquitted at courts martial, and three other suspects were not charged.
By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer.
With the Springfield police escort in tow, the remains of the first U.S. Marine from the city to be killed in action in World War II were welcomed home Thursday evening, more than 75 years after he was died in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Watch video
SPRINGFIELD- With the Springfield police escort in tow, the remains of the first U.S. Marine from the city to be killed in action in World War II were welcomed home Thursday evening, more than 75 years after he was died in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
Drake, who grew up at 255 Mill St., was fatally struck by enemy fire in Guadalcanal in 1942 while attempting to rescue a fellow marine. He posthumously received a Silver Star for his actions that day.
The fallen marine's long journey back home began in 2011, improbably enough, when a man named Yorick Tokuru, a resident of Guadalcanal, began to dig on his property, preparing to build an outdoor kitchen near his home.
Tokuru uncovered a nearly intact human skeleton. Royal Solomon Islands Police Force investigators excavated the site and turned the remains over to the state archaeologist, who in turn contacted an Australian expert on the Battle of Guadalcanal. That expert then informed the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Agency (JPAC) of the recovery.
The remains of the 20-year-old were flown in from Hawaii to Bradley International Airport Thursday afternoon, and taken to Sampson's Family Chapels, which is handling the arrangements.
A memorial service honoring Drake will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in St. Michael's Cathedral, 260 State St. A period of visitation, from 10-11 a.m., will precede there.
Rites of committal and interment will follow at the Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemetery, 1390 Main St., Agawam, at 1 p.m.
The study would look at capital and operating costs, ridership levels, operational issues, environmental and economic impacts, and the availability of funding.
BOSTON -- The state Senate unanimously adopted an amendment on Thursday requiring the state Department of Transportation to conduct a study of high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield, this time with an extension to Pittsfield.
"We owe it to all four counties to make sure the entire four-county region of Western Mass. is included in the analysis," said Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who sponsored the amendment.
The study would look at capital and operating costs, ridership levels, operational issues, environmental and economic impacts, and the availability of funding.
MassDOT has already committed to studying east-west rail and expects to put out a request for proposals this summer to find someone to conduct the study.
Lesser said passing a legislative mandate is a "safety mechanism" to make sure the study actually gets done.
Lesser has been pushing for several years for a study of Springfield-to-Boston rail, and lawmakers from the Berkshire region asked to study a connection to Pittsfield as well.
The amendment will still have to make it through a conference committee with House negotiators, then be signed by Gov. Charlie Baker. The Senate has passed similar amendments several times before but they have never made it through the legislative process.
"Even after Judge Estes has admitted his guilt, he's still collecting a paycheck and eligible for a pension," said state Rep. Kate D. Campanale. "It's not only a disgrace to his colleagues on the bench, but to Massachusetts taxpayers."
BOSTON -- The state Legislature has begun the process to expel Judge Thomas Estes from the judiciary, with a bill filed Thursday afternoon.
Should the House and Senate approve the bill, it then goes to the governor, who, "with consent" of the Governors Council, may remove Estes from the bench.
The legislative action came on the heels of the Supreme Judicial Court's decision to indefinitely suspend the judge without pay, effective June 15. In Massachusetts, judges serve continuously until the mandatory retirement age of 70. The SJC cannot remove a judge for bad behavior.
The SJC's suspension of Estes was the result of a misconduct hearing against him that was heard in April. Estes has admitted having sex with a drug court clinician in his office at Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.
The bill to remove Estes was filed by Rep. Kate D. Campanale, R-Leicister, who represents the 17th Worcester District and is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The two-page bill refers to the government's legal authority to remove Estes, enshrined in the state constitution.
"Clearly, this is an abuse of public trust that I'm deeply disturbed by," Campanale said in a statement. "This is a case that has been ongoing for months and months - far too long. Even after Judge Estes has admitted his guilt, he's still collecting a paycheck and eligible for a pension. It's not only a disgrace to his colleagues on the bench, but to Massachusetts taxpayers."
The Republican spoke with five of the eight members of the Governors Council on Thursday, and they said Estes should resign forthwith.
The Boston Globe, citing "people with knowledge of his plans," reported that Estes is expected to resign Friday.
A GOP advocacy group calls Baker a "clean energy champion for Massachusetts."
BOSTON -- Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is being lauded for his leadership on clean energy and climate change.
A new digital advertising campaign calls Baker a "clean energy champion for Massachusetts" who is "leading the charge to reduce carbon emissions" to protect the environment and boost the economy.
The $185,000 campaign is funded by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions. The national group was formed in 2013 "to engage Republican policymakers and the public about commonsense, conservative solutions to address our nation's need for abundant, reliable energy while preserving our environment."
Baker has led the charge "in advancing market-based, clean energy and conservation policies that grow the economy, strengthen America's national security and help to preserve the quality of our climate," said former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican and senior advisor to CRES.
Baker has expanded the state's solar industry, promoted offshore wind, renewed Massachusetts' commitment to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and led a 17-state accord to modernize the nation's electrical grid, according to the group.
The praise stands in contrast to criticism lodged by anti-pipeline groups, who accuse Baker of promoting the natural gas industry. Baker is a "climate criminal," according to one man who helped staged a sit-in at Baker's State House office suite in 2017. Activists have pushed Baker to sign a pledge opposing any new fossil fuel infrastructure.
The role of natural gas in the region's energy future remains a matter of heated debate.
The new ad campaign asks people to email Baker and "tell him to keep fighting for clean energy."
Read obituaries from The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Click below to read the obituaries published Thursday in The Republican:
In the days after a shooter killed 10 people at a Texas high school, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch joined a chorus of conservatives in spotlighting a subject to blame that didn't involve guns. Watch video
In the days after a shooter killed 10 people at a Texas high school, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch joined a chorus of conservatives in spotlighting a subject to blame that didn't involve guns.
"The media has got to stop creating more of these monsters by oversaturation," Loesch said on the NRA's television station, echoing remarks she made after the Parkland shooting. "I'm not saying don't responsibly report on things as they happen. Look, I understand it. But constantly showing the image of the murderer, constantly saying their name, is completely unnecessary."
And on Thursday, Collins Idehen Jr., a host on NRA TV who goes by the pseudonym Colion Noir, took the organization's media attacks even further.
Noir spent the first half of a four-minute NRA video, part of a series that appeared to be sponsored by the gunmaker Kimber, lambasting the media for coverage that he said inspired other shooters through reporting about mass shooters' backgrounds and motivations, and included their names in coverage.
"These kids aren't being inspired by an innate hunk of plastic and metal laying on a table, they're inspired by the infamous glory of past shooters who they relate to," he said. "And no entity on the planet does a better job, whether directly or indirectly, of glorying these killers, and thereby providing the inspiration for the next one, than our mainstream media."
Noir proposed a solution that would surely violate the First Amendment.
"It's time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings, because it's killing our kids," he said. "It's time for Congress to step up and pass legislation putting common-sense limitations on our mainstream media's ability to report on these school shootings."
He added: "Pass a law preventing the media from reporting killer's name or showing his face."
Noir clarified at the end of the video that his proposal was not something he believed in, but that he was using provocatively to make a point about those who argue in favor of gun control.
"You know that feeling of anxiety that shot through your body when I said the government should pass laws to limit the media's ability to exercise their First Amendment rights? That's the same feeling gun owners get when they hear people say the same thing about the Second Amendment," he said. "However I vehemently disagree with the government infringing on the media's First Amendment's rights, the same way I don't think the government should infringe on anyone's Second Amendment rights."
The video is part of a broader effort on behalf of the NRA to demonize the press, an effort which, though it dates back years - The Washington Post's Callum Borchers traced the roots of the current campaign to 2007, when the NRA began to complain about media coverage of mass shooters after the Virginia Tech shooting - has ratcheted up as late, including a new ad campaign. In March, Noir turned heads when he taunted the teen activists who began advocating for gun control after the Parkland, Florida, shooting, saying that "No one would know your names," if their classmates were still alive.
If the video was part of a plan to rile up some of the NRA's detractors, it succeeded wildly. Plenty of people shared it on social media, reacting to the quote shared with the video and not the second half, where Noir claims he doesn't actually believe in the proposal.
But equating the First and Second Amendments, which have different legal histories and significance, has been a talking point for some gun proponents - emerging as the focus of pro-gun memes and even as potential legislation. A Republican state representative from Indiana drafted a nearly satirical bill in 2017 which would have required licenses for journalists akin to those that pertain to handgun owners, though he never ended up introducing it.
"If the media thinks we should license one constitutional right, then the same standards should be applied to them," he told The Post at the time.
But guns are obviously not the same as speech are therefore are not viewed the same under the law.
"Speaking usually doesn't kill the hearer," NYU law professor and constitutional expert Burt Neuborne told The Post last year. "Firing a gun poses a physical risk."
Republican lawmakers in more than a dozen states introduced legislation to curb protests in the immediate months after Trump's election, in what critics said amounted to an attack on civil liberties. One bill proposed shielding drivers who hit protesters in the street from liability. Another sought to seize the assets of those who took part in protests that turned violent.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post, Written By Eli Rosenberg.
Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni, and the extended Gulluni family, hosted their 3rd annual pasta dinner fundraiser on Thursday at the Ludlow Elks Lodge.
LUDLOW - Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni and the extended Gulluni family, hosted their 4th annual pasta dinner campaign fundraiser on Thursday at the Ludlow Elks Lodge.
In addition to a menu of homemade pasta, meatballs and sausage, attendees were treated to live entertainment by Kyle Langlois, a popular local performer and student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, as he performed a variety of music.
"This family friendly event has become a sizable coming together of friends and family from all over to enjoy an evening of camaraderie and homemade Italian cooking," Gulluni said. "I'm grateful to all who have come out to enjoy such a wonderful evening."
In 2014, Gulluni defeated four Democrats vying for the seat vacated by now-U.S. District Judge Mark Mastroianni. His bid for a second term looks decidedly less stressful than his first with no apparent competition.
Car enthusiasts flocked to the Chicopee Moose Family Center on Thursday night
CHICOPEE -- The popular pastime of cruise nights brought hundreds of car enthusiasts to the Moose Family Center on Thursday night.
Rows and rows of gleaming vehicles filled the lot, as their owners chatted with visitors or proudly polished their rides. Vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles were featured, as were shiny-new sportscars and muscle cars.
A long-time participant of the show, Tony Damato, of Belchertown, brought his beautifully restored 1957 Chevrolet station wagon to the event. He said he has owned the car since 1963.
"I've had this car for over 50 years," Damato said. "My wife wanted me to sell it, but I'm glad I didn't."
"It rides very well," he added. "My kids all have new cars, but I'd rather have this one."
The car show, which raises money for charitable activities of the organization, is now in its 11th season.
There was hardly a vacant seat to be found in the center's pavillion, where car enthusiasts could enjoy burgers, hot dogs and beer. Entertainment in the form of oldies music was provided by DJ Gary Back in Time.
The cruise nights are held weekly on Thursdays from 5 p.m. until dusk at 224 Fuller Road. Trophies are awarded in three categories every week. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/mooselodgecarshow/