Midday Magazine

Weekdays, Noon - 1pm; Weekends, Noon- 1pm

WAMC's award-winning daily news magazine brings listeners the latest in local, national and world news. Join Brian Shields each weekday for the latest. The work of the WAMC News team is complemented each day with news and features from the BBC, The Innovation Trail, and Stardate. Midday Magazine also offers a comprehensive regional weather summary and a range of commentators who span the political spectrum. Highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line are usually aired on Friday's edition of Midday Magazine.

 

I recently presented a paper at a Hofstra University conference spotlighting the 50th anniversary of the New York Mets. My subject was “The Mets in the Movies” and I chronicled the various celluloid references to the Amazins, from Bill Mazeroski, the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer, hitting into a triple play against the Mets in the screen version of Neil Simon’s THE ODD COUPLE to Billy Crystal’s wearing a Mets baseball cap while running with the bulls in Pamplona and herding cattle in CITY SLICKERS.

Next week, the people of Williamstown will vote on municipal efforts to expand and begin the process of developing new state funded Affordable Housing in the Northern Berkshire town. According to Massachusetts’ Affordable Housing Law, every community in the Commonwealth has an obligation to develop ways to provide 10% of their housing stock available to moderate and low income families. Many Berkshire communities are well below that goal, including Williamstown.

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  Construction work on publicly funded housing developments in Massachusetts should be booming in coming months. The Patrick administration has committed tens of millions of dollars to build or preserve affordable housing across the state. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

        $105 million in tax credits and subsidies from federal and state programs is being awarded for 36 housing developments in 28 communities.  State officials say this will build or preserve almost 22 hundred housing units and create an estimated 3000 construction jobs.

We roll back selections from this week's WAMC Listener Comment Line. The number to call:  1-800-695-9170

The most fundamental change in the plan released by the Senate is how people pay for health care. The bill offers a new global payment system – one that replaces the old fee for service model with fixed allocations from insurance companies for care.

Health insurance companies in Massachusetts began introducing global payment options for some customers in 2009. The Governor also endorsed the idea in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal. The bill would require all state subsidized health care insurance programs make the switch over the next several years, including Medicaid.

President Barack Obama's endorsement of gay marriage on Wednesday was
welcome news throughout much of the Hudson Valley Region where WAMC's
Dave Lucas gathered reactions

Linda Mussman is the co-director of Time and Space Limited in Hudson -
she and her partner Claudia Bruce were among the first people to be
married in New York State under the marriage equality act -

Mussman believes President Obama's evolution will help bring issues of
civil rights and equality to the forefront more quickly

Most parents and teachers would be skeptical to hear that young people should spend more time in front of video games to do better in school, but there are some who say that is the case. Clark Aldrich is a leading interface designer and one of the top educational simulator creators in the world. He will moderate a gaming summit tomorrow at Excelsior College in Albany on how serious video games can be used in higher education. Aldrich tells WAMC’s Brian Shields that parents and teachers should be open to serious video games as a good way to learn.

The federal “Secure Communities” program requires that fingerprints be taken from arrested individuals and compared to immigration and FBI databases. Proponents are saying the program is the most effective tool for detecting illegal immigrants. Opponents argue the system leads to racial profiling, or targets low-level offenders.

School budget votes will be held across New York next Tuesday, and this will be the first year that districts must comply with the state’s new two percent property tax cap. Most of the school budgets to be decided next week are within the cap, but school officials say it will come at a cost. WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke with Tim Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association.

 

At long last an attempt is being made to curtail blatant anti-Semitic commentary at American universities. The Israel Law Center warns that universities “may be liable for massive damage” if they fail to prevent anti-Semitism on campus.

The center sent hundreds of letters to university presidents drawing a line in the sand. This Israel civil rights center is carrying out this campaign in response to an alarming number of incidents against Jewish and Israeli students at U.S. universities.

From the outset of this anomalous experiment in government of, for and by its people, vocabulary has been an essential ingredient; the distillate of how things are accomplished.  Out of its need, grew the absolutely necessary First Constitutional Amendment that ensured freedom of expression.  Today, that freedom is an endangered species.  An explicit word, once a cornerstone of the experiment, has been banned.  The word is: “ETHICS.”  As an act of civil disobedience, this commentator will now repeat it:

The city of Springfield Massachusetts is facing serious financial problems, again. The city's mayor and members of his finance team met in Boston Monday with the Speaker of the Massachusetts House and the State Senate President to appeal for help.  WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

 

DEP Commissioner Ken Kimmell says that the plan currently under development to reduce the amount of food waste in landfills, which could eventually lead to banning commercial institutions from disposing organic waste in the conventional manner, is an attempt to get a return from a resource literally being thrown away.

 

There is a movie, currently in release, which tells the story of a young man who finds himself in a life-threatening situation. All that sustains him is the found photo of a beautiful woman, whom he has never met. He survives but finds himself lost and frazzled, and unable to function in the everyday world. So he sets out to find this woman-- and make her real.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is being urged by some to speed up its work to shorten the expected time table for issuing up to three licenses to build resort casinos.  An casino-sitting advisory committee has been created in Springfield, as officials there pursue a casino development.  WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

 

A bill sponsored by Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Senator Benjamin Downing, both of Pittsfield, would expand the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority by adding three additional board members. The board, also known as PEDA, was created in the late 90s to redevelopment the William Stanley Business Park, the former 52-acre home to General Electric, and largest employer of city residents for decades.

 Senator Downing says that the action was needed to allow the board to reach out and attract companies to the park.

We play back selections  from this week's WAMC Listener Comment Line. 

A fatal fire in Putnam County is under investigation - Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports the blaze has some officials ready to call for a deeper look at state and local building codes.

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As a pending ballot initiative for November aims to legalize the sale medical marijuana in the state, a bill filed by State Representative Ellen Story seeks to allow Massachusetts residents over 21 to legally purchase or grow marijuana for personal use. Representative Story says the bill represents the opinion of her district…

Berkshire Farm and Table is hosting its ongoing “Where the Wild Things Are” series of foraging programs throughout Berkshire County. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief spoke with Russ Cohen, a wild foods expert and educator…

Russ Cohen is a wild foods expert and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…And Eaten. More information on the “Where the Wild Things Are” hikes can be found at BerkshireFarmandtable.com

This year’s U.S. presidential and congressional contests are expected to be the most expensive elections in the nation’s history. Despite the still struggling economy, millions of dollars are being poured into campaign war-chests and the accounts of political action committees, leaving many wondering, “Where does the money come from?”

 

For as long as I can recall the Port Authority has been a mystical institution with enormous responsibility and with an overhang of patronage and soft money allegations. In a recent audit the Port Authority was described as dysfunctional and running up billons in cost overruns. Most significantly, the audit spoke to “insufficient cost controls” and “a lack of transparent and effective oversight.”

The future is in doubt for one of just two remaining coal powered electricity generating plants in Massachusetts.  Municipal officials and environmentalists believe age and the current economics of burning coal will bring an end to the Mount Tom Power Plant in Holyoke.  WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

 

      An advisory committee made up of Holyoke residents and appointed officials including  members of the Conservation Commission and Redevelopment Authority will explore alternative uses for the Mount Tom Power Plant.

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At a recent gathering of Nobel Laureates in Chicago, a report was released detailing the danger facing the world from a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan.  The author of the report is a western Massachusetts physician. Dr. Ira Helfand,  vice president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill.

The number of weapons background checks carried out by the F.B.I. has been on the increase in recent months. That’s according to a new report compiled by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington D.C.  

For those public broadcasters who always ask the question: “Is classical music dead or doomed?” in interviews before every concert they air, this commentator has a simple coherent answer: “Only if you will it!”  Most Public Broadcasting execs seem privately convinced but too chicken to say, what they already believe.  So they ask the question, praying someone else will intone the answer they seek.  Theirs’ is a suspicion fallaciously raised, ever since ‘Classical Music’ was born.  In truth, as the inimitable ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong used to put it:  “There’s only two kinds of music… Good and Bad

 

We love to complain about the lack of a coherent national energy policy. It’s a perennial complaint no matter who is in the White House or which party controls Congress. We blame the oil and gas companies and their hold on our politicians. If Congress had the people’s interests at heart, the story goes, we’d have a rational energy policy in this country that would emphasize efficiency, wean us off the dirty stuff and shift us to clean renewable energy.

The Merrimack River Valley Flood Control Compact is at the center of an argument between the two New England states.  The 1953 agreement was approved by Congress after Massachusetts requested help from New Hampshire in managing the Merrimack River flood plain.

18 New Hampshire Towns gave up a portion of their communities to build a flood control system, and in exchange, the State of New Hampshire agreed to reimburse the towns for the lost property tax values. According to the agreement, 70 percent of that funding going to the towns would come from payments made by Massachusetts.

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Several  events  were held in Amherst Massachusetts over the weekend to mark the inauguration of Jonathan Lash as the sixth president of Hampshire College.  The highlight was a formal inauguration ceremony  featuring a keynote address by former Vice President Al Gore.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

 

      Gore spoke forcefully on his signature issue, global warming, saying policies and practices must change and critics who deny the scientific evidence must be refuted.

Lately, I’ve been seeing and savoring quite a few foreign language films: titles that have not enjoyed across-the-board theatrical releases in the U.S. This lack of theatrical exposure is not because these films are lacking in quality. They are in fact engrossing and provocative.

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