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HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EDT THURSDAY. THIS STORY MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST OR POSTED ONLINE BEFORE 12:01 A.M. EDT. - In this Aug. 17, 2011 photo provided by Elizabeth Farnsworth, rare clubmoss grows in the challenging Alpine environment on Mount Mansfield near Stowe, Vt. A comprehensive report being released Thursday, March 26, 2015, by the New England Wild Flower Society shows that much of New England’s rich native flora is fighting for survival against increasing odds. Conservationists studied more than 3,500 known plant species and determined that about 22 percent are considered rare, in decline, endangered or possibly extinct. Many plants also range over a much smaller geographical area than they once did. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Farnsworth)

Report: NE biodiversity threatened

Thursday, March 26, 2015

BOSTON — From picturesque coastal estuaries of Cape Cod to the soaring White Mountains, much of New England’s rich native flora is fighting for survival against increasing odds, according to what conservationists call the most comprehensive accounting ever made of the region’s plant life. The report, to be released Thursday by the New England Wild Flower Society, studied more than …

House OKs early retirement plan for state workers

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts House gave overwhelming approval Wednesday to Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to offer early retirement packages to thousands of state employees. The governor and lawmakers expect about 4,500 executive branch workers to take advantage of the program, saving the state about $173 million in the next fiscal year that starts on July 1. The savings estimate was about $5 …

State plans takeover of Holyoke schools

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

BOSTON — Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester is recommending the Holyoke Public Schools be put into state receivership. Chester pointed to what he called the “persistent and pervasive” underperformance of Holyoke schools. He said only one in three students there is reading at grade level. Chester said he also based his recommendation on seven years of observing the district. Chester told the Board …

MGM breaks ground on 1st casino in state

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — With confetti and fanfare, MGM officially broke ground Tuesday on an $800 million casino in western Massachusetts that represents the largest economic development project the region has seen in generations. Hundreds attended the ceremony held on …

Big trials spur calls for cameras in federal court

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON — High-profile cases playing out in federal court are prosecuted on behalf of the American public, but the public has been largely barred from watching them. In Boston, reporters have mobbed the trial of Boston Marathon bomber …

Tsarnaev talked of losing loved ones in Chechnya

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON — Three months before he bombed the Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told college officials he had been unable to concentrate on his studies because he had “lost too many” loved ones in Chechnya during the previous year, a school administrator testified Tuesday. The jury in Tsarnaev’s federal …

Massachusetts seeks disaster aid for snow

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts will seek a federal disaster declaration for the record-setting snowstorms that wreaked havoc on the state and piled up what state officials estimate to be $400 million in snow removal costs and other damage, …

Nation’s mayors call for more federal road money

Monday, March 23, 2015

BOSTON — The nation’s mayors are calling on Congress to increase transportation funding in order to keep roads and bridges in good repair. The call came Monday during a task force meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors …

Cosby accusers fight motion to dismiss defamation suit

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON — Three women who allege Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them decades ago say in a court filing that he doesn’t have a right to lie and hide behind the statements of his representatives to have their defamation lawsuit dismissed. “Cosby claims a privilege to defame where none …

Witness explores jihadi themes in bomber’s note

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON — A note written by Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he hid inside a boat contained themes of global jihad similar to those found in extremist materials on his computer, a terrorism expert testified Monday at his federal death penalty trial. In the note, scrawled in …

SJC: Juveniles seeking parole entitled to lawyers

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BOSTON — Inmates serving life sentences for murders committed when they were juveniles are constitutionally entitled to lawyers and expert witnesses at their parole hearings, the state’s highest court ruled Monday. The 5-2 decision by the Supreme Judicial Court builds on a December 2013 ruling that found mandatory …

Holyoke shooting injures 1

Monday, March 23, 2015

HOLYOKE — Police are investigating a shooting in Holyoke that sent one man to the hospital with an injury not considered life threatening. Police Lt. Joseph Garcia says the victim told police he was walking through an alley from Oak Street to Linden just after 1:30 a.m. Sunday …

Companies look to tap into Vt.’s maple business

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ISLAND POND, Vt. — Already, Vermont is maple syrup capital of the U.S., with production traditionally being a side business for farmers. Could a large-scale operation, tapping into thousands of acres of maple trees in a remote northeastern …