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A black bear visits Lynne Bertrand's Williamsburg home this week.

Lynne Bertrand: A spring visitor in Williamsburg comes bearing a reminder

Friday, May 22, 2015

WILLIAMSBURG — A black bear materialized yesterday in the yard, a sudden presence in the shadows at the river out back. He ambled up the hill and past the house, giving off the appearance of someone who had lost his glasses and was fumbling around in the kitchen to make a sandwich. He was inexplicably thick for a spring bear, …

Rev. Peter Kakos: What if the Valley were fracked?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — With the necessary attention being paid to the proposed pipeline of natural gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing that would snake its way through our Commonwealth, let’s imagine the plight of our beloved Valley were we the site for invasive extraction. The immediate effect would be coping with continual, sizeable tremors caused by the subsequent earthquakes, as basement-rock twists and tilts. If …

Rekha Basu: Progressives, like libertarians on right, forcing party soul-searching

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Every presidential election cycle, the tension between moderate and evangelical conservative voters in the Republican Party becomes the subject of hand-wringing speculation: Could a moderate seeking the Republican nomination win in an early voting state like Iowa, where evangelicals dominate? Could an evangelical candidate win the general election? But the real story shaping up this election cycle is from the other party, where …

Adam Fisher: Douglas M. Hughes’ air mail message of protest

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — I wonder if Hillary Clinton or Rand Paul or Jeb Bush or Bernie Sanders or Ted Cruz will show up tomorrow. May 21 is the day when Douglas M. Hughes is due back in a Washington federal court, accused of various offenses related to his April …

Christopher W. Norris: Mutual aid critical piece of emergency response in cash-strapped communities

Monday, May 18, 2015

WESTHAMPTON — Last month I saw a report on a local TV news station regarding the Southampton Fire Department not responding to an emergency medical call and having to rely on a neighboring community for assistance. The report was critical of the department and its personnel. I want …

Sara Weinberger: Putting one’s faith into action

Sunday, May 17, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — I first met Michael Kane when we joined a group organized by Congregation B’nai Israel in Northampton to raise funds for humanitarian relief for victims of the genocide in Darfur. Today, Michael and I are once again working with communities of faith, this time to spread …

Jim Foudy: Marty Meehan ready to write next chapter for UMass

Friday, May 15, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — For the first time, the five-campus University of Massachusetts system will be led by an alum. I have seen a lot of presidents come and go — seven in the last 25 years. The eighth, Marty Meehan, may well prove to be the best of the …

Jim Palermo: Beware of the corporate fix for our schools

Friday, May 15, 2015

SOUTHAMPTON — Why are politicians falling over themselves proposing ways to “improve” our schools, while paying almost no attention to the basic reasons so many of our students are not able to attain their full potentials? The answer is simple: Money. Or, more specifically, the opportunity for corporate …

Lester J. Hartman, MD: Old enough to know better about tobacco’s effects on health

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WESTWOOD — First, I would like to thank Lt. Col. John Paradis, a Gazette columnist, for his service to this great nation and for defending the rights of all Americans. In my family, three generations of men served …

Steven W. Hawkins: Reparations long time coming for victims of Chicago police torture

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

While the nation watches as the city of Baltimore awaits justice from the investigation of the role of Baltimore police in the death of Freddie Gray, Chicago has just made history in holding police accountable for abuse. From 1972 to 1991 over 100 people, nearly all African-American men, …

James Ayres: Superheroes of everyday life in Hampshire County

Monday, May 11, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — So often, we imagine our superheroes as mysterious individuals, working alone, applying some unique and dazzling power to confront an imminent danger: a meteor or a runaway locomotive hurtling toward us, or maybe a treacherous villain bent on world domination. Our lone superhero rescues us with …

John Sheirer: Break out the media shovels, for it’s time to bury the lede about Hillary’s lead

Monday, May 11, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — “Burying the lede” (or “lead”) is a concept in journalism that involves not focusing on the most important aspect of a story at the beginning of a report. It’s a mistake most often made by inexperienced journalists. Sometimes a writer might purposely bury the lede to …

Rev. Andrea Ayvazian: Pope Francis takes on climate change

Friday, May 8, 2015

HAYDENVILLE — Get ready to cheer. Sometime this summer the Vatican will publish Pope Francis’ papal encyclical on the environment. This document, observers believe, will describe the current and future threats to our planet posed by climate change and show how vulnerable populations — especially the poor — …