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.

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.

At the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, members of the community gathered to have an open dialogue with area economic development strategists to talk about the future of the Berkshire economy and current obstables that stand in its way.

Executive Director of the Norman Rockwell Mseum, Laurie Norton Moffatt explains that this meeting was the last of the “Four Freedoms” community discussion forums.

Three members of the New York State Police are suspended as officials look into allegations of a prostitution ring. One of the troopers, 18 year veteran Titus Taggert, allegedly promoted prostitution while off-duty from Troop-T, the branch which patrols the NYS Thruway. For more on the case, WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke to Albany Law School professor and defense attorney Laurie Shanks.

Wistariahurst Museum

The life of a renowned activist for social justice is being fondly remembered this weekend in western Massachusetts. And, the legacy of Carlos Vega is being preserved in an extensive collection of personal papers and artifacts at a museum in his home city of Holyoke.   WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

        There is barely an aspect of life in Holyoke over the last half century, from housing to education to Latino culture that Carlos Vega did not influence, or at least, try to influence.

Blue Star Equiculture

An organic farm in western Massachusetts is the officially designated retirement place for the carriage horses of New York’s Central Park.  Blue Star Equiculture of Palmer Massachusetts is participating in an event this weekend where people will have a chance to learn more about its unique mission to help working horses.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Blue Star Equiculture’s executive director, Pamela Rickenbach.

Dave Lucas / WAMC

Demonstrations and creative protests were held campuses and communities around the country Wednesday to mark Occupy Trillion Day - when U.S. student debt reached $1Trillion. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas attended one of those events, held at the SUNY New Paltz Campus.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s, at a time when HIV/AIDS was decimating the gay community. AIDS has since been rendered a chronic but manageable illness with the development of effective antiviral drugs (at least for those who can afford them), but at that time a diagnosis of AIDS was considered to be a death sentence.

The study was called for by Mitchell Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. The goal was to find the effects of special education programs in Massachusetts, and examine why the state has such a high rate of students being included in special ed programs – 17%. The results of the study, which were presented at a special meeting of the state board of Elementary and Secondary Education showed that average number of 17% can be highly variable among school districts. Commissioner Chester…

 

Writing in the New York Times (4/8/12) Ross Douthat argues “that religious common ground has all but disappeared.” The existence of a Judeo Christian center that helped bind the teeming nation together is in retreat, he claims. In a nation as divided as ours, religious polarization is inescapable as the race to the presidency has already suggested.

What does the future hold for health care in the United States? Alumni of the Union Graduate College‘s M.B.A. in health care management will gather tomorrow in Schenectady to discuss the many answers to that question.  

New and innovative models of health care will be on the table including “health home” and “patient navigation”. WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke with Kelli Valenti, a Union graduate, who works with Ellis Medicine in Schenectady, and Dr. John Huppertz, chair of the M.B.A. in health care management at Union Graduate College.

A forum will be held this evening at 6 p.m. at the stockade room at Schenectady County Community College in Schenectady on racial disparities in law enforcement. For more on the community forum on race and criminal justice in Schenectady WAMC’s Brian Shields spoke today with the organizer, Dr. Alice Green, executive director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany.

Hampshire College

Jonathan Lash will be inaugurated this Friday  as the sixth president of Hampshire College. Lash was an environmental attorney, and a former Vermont State Secretary of Natural Resources.  Former Vice President Al Gore will deliver a speech at the inauguration.  WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Lash.

Local salons and cosmetics going all-natural

Apr 24, 2012

As consumers demand more environmentally conscious products, companies have been responding with hybrid cars, green cleaning products, and organic food. The beauty industry is no different, and some salons and make-up lines are going “au naturel”. WAMC’s Elizabeth Conkey has more…

A New York State Joint Intervention Team conducted a review which found one of the city of Hudson's intermediate schools falling behind: Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports on the recommendation to restructure the Montgomery C. Smith School.

In 2001, after receiving a solicitation letter in the mail and then viewing a TV interview of Walter Cronkite, Honorary National Chairman of the Interfaith Alliance, this commentator became a member.  The idea of religious and lay leaders of many faiths joining together to ensure utmost support for the constitutional certainty of both religious freedom and church/state separation was an irresistible inducement.  When I later learned of the formation of an affiliated unit, in New York State, I became an avid supporter.

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