TIME weather

Tornado Does Damage to Revere, Mass.

“Given the magnitude of the storm, it’s really a miracle that no one sustained more serious injuries,” Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo told the Associated Press.

A storm that swept through the Boston area Sunday night hit the coastal city of about 53,000 people, leaving felled trees, shattered windows and rattled residents.

 

TIME politics

Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand What It’s Like to Be a Woman in This Country

Planned Parenthood On Commonwealth Avenue
Self-described "Right to Lifer" Ray Neary stands behind the yellow line as he protests outside of a Planned Parenthood on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Mass. on June 26, 2014. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Boston Globe—Boston Globe via Getty Images

Without a buffer zone, protesters' expression of free speech outside of healthcare centers has included chaining themselves to medical equipment and blocking access to healthcare centers.

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a protected zone around healthcare centers providing abortion. We at Planned Parenthood are disappointed with the Court’s ruling, which shows that far too many people — including far too many powerful people — don’t understand what it is like to be a woman in this country who simply wants to make her own healthcare decisions in private without harassment or intimidation.

Indeed, this is a ruling against the safety of women receiving basic health care. It is a ruling against the protection of staff workers trying to get to their job without being screamed at and facing the threat of violence. Though this type of threatening behavior is rare outside reproductive health centers, when it does happen it is frightening — and that is why patient protection zones are so important.

Despite this discouraging decision, Planned Parenthood will continue safeguarding our patients. The good news is that many patient protection laws across the country remain intact. Our patients and staff will continue to be shielded by the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. In Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood is working with the governor, the attorney general’s office and local law enforcement to ensure that, in spite of this ruling, the privacy and safety of every patient accessing health care and every staff member doing his or her job will remain safe — no matter what.

With all due respect to the Justices, they have erred in invalidating the buffer zone as an impermissible regulation of speech. Protesters always have had ample opportunities to express their opinions directly to patients and staff. And the Court also distorted reality when it focused on supposed “caring” conversations from protesters.

In Massachusetts, before the buffer zone law was enacted, patients and staff were often subjected to intense and aggressive harassment. Planned Parenthood in particular was routinely singled out by protesters who went beyond expressing themselves through conversation. They disrupted the operation of health centers by chaining themselves to medical equipment. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the doorway of our healthcare centers, blocking access for our patients and staff. They screamed directly into the ears of patients, jarring them at a sensitive moment — when they were en route to a private medical appointment.

This volatile, unsafe environment in Massachusetts paved the way for tragedy. In 1994, a man barged into the Planned Parenthood health center in Brookline and opened fire, murdering one staff member and injuring three others. He then went to another nearby health center, murdering another staff member and wounding two others.

When the law was enacted, it was instantly clear that it worked. The atmosphere outside Planned Parenthood health centers became transformed to one of peaceful coexistence. Speech was never prevented outside healthcare centers. The only restriction protesters faced was to stand 35 feet away from the entrance of a healthcare center. Thirty-five feet is roughly the length of a school bus. When someone screams “Murderer!” from a distance of 35 feet, you hear the message loud and clear.

In short, the Massachusetts buffer zone law defused tensions and reduced violence because it struck the appropriate balance between preserving free speech rights and protecting public safety. It has proven to be an effective and balanced solution.

Americans are accustomed to buffer zones. They are erected outside Election Day polling places to protect voters. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has its own buffer zone to protect the safety and dignity of the Court, but the Court was silent on its own buffer zone in this decision. Apparently, women and staff do not deserve the same protection.

With or without a buffer zone, Planned Parenthood will work to keep our patients safe. One tool has been taken from us, but we have others at our disposal. We will ensure our patients can continue to make carefully considered, private medical decisions, without running a gauntlet of harassing and threatening protesters.

This decision is not the end of the story. At Planned Parenthood we continue forward in our relentless commitment to enable women to make their own healthcare decisions without fear, judgment or intimidation — and that will never change.

Cecile Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

 

TIME Environment

Invasive Beetle Poised to Spread Into New Hampshire

Emerald ash borers strip nutrients and kill ash trees within a year

New Hampshire residents fear an ash-tree beetle infestation may spread throughout the state after forest officials found a swarm of the highly destructive invasive bugs in Salem, Mass., not far from the state border.

New Hampshire entomologist Piera Siegert says the infestation will likely spread north soon, although the beetles have not yet been spotted within her state, the Associated Press reports. Towns that could soon be infected include Hudson, Kingston, Londonderry, Hampstead, Pelham, Salem, Derry, Windham, Plaistow, Sandown, Danville, Atkinson and Newton.

The beetles, known as emerald ash borers, have already ravaged ash trees throughout Massachusetts — stripping nutrients and killing specimens within a year. Siegert warns that if the beetles are indeed found in New Hampshire, there will be an official quarantine on transferring firewood and ash-wood products.

[AP]

MONEY

What It Costs to Live in America’s No. 1 Place to Live

+ READ ARTICLE

Sharon, Massachusetts, was ranked no. 1 on Money’s Best Places to Live. This New England town is surrounded by a wealth of good jobs in Boston, Providence, and the Route 128 tech corridor, which shielded Sharon from the worst of the recession. From a cup of joe to a tank of gas, here’s what things cost in Sharon, Mass.

MONEY

Play in a $3 Million Sherwood Home

The town of Sherwood, Oregon, was ranked by Money as no. 5 on the Best Places to Live.

+ READ ARTICLE

This quaint historic town – known for its top-ranked schools and relatively affordable home prices – offers a plethora of fun for adults and kids alike.

The home featured in this video has a tanning room for those sunless days and a kids’ entertainment level, with a stage and built-in slide. Check it out in Sherwood, Ore., no. 5 on Money’s Best Places to Live.

MONEY

Watch: You Can Live Big or Small in the Best Place

A half-hour train ride from Boston or Providence, the town Sharon, in Massachusetts, has the natural beauty of a more remote place.

+ READ ARTICLE

When it comes to real estate, there’s something for everyone in this charming town, ranked by Money as the Best Place to Live. We took a sneak peek at three homes–entry-level, mid-range, and high-end lake-front—to see how far your dollar goes here.

TIME Health Care

Obamacare Works, Massachusetts Proves It

New data shows the state's health care reform in 2006 led to greater coverage and lower death rates, which bodes well for the Affordable Care Act, even if researchers couldn't access individual's insurance information to directly link coverage, or lack of, with specific deaths

Four years after Massachusetts underwent a major health reform, death rates in the state dropped.

In 2006, the state of Massachusetts expanded Medicaid coverage and offered subsidized private insurance. And since Massachusetts has been one of the models for the principles of the Affordable Care Act, which focuses on prevention, health advocates and policy makers have been watching the state closely to see how well the strategies work.

Apparently, pretty well. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health compared mortality rates from before and after Massachusetts’ health care law, and found that deaths among non-elderly residents dropped 2.9% compared to similar states without the reform. The researchers looked at mortality rates up to 2010 and concentrated on deaths that were likely to be prevented with access to health care — things like infections, heart disease and cancer. Based on this data, it’s estimated that Massachusetts’ health care re-haul prevented 320 deaths a year by providing patients with the opportunity to the latest treatments for blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors, as well as regular screening for cancers.

The largest health benefits were seen, not surprisingly, in counties that, prior to reform, had more uninsured adults.

Does that mean Obama was right about health care? Maybe. One of the problems with the study design is that the researchers did not have access to individual health insurance information so they could not directly connect health insurance or lack there of, with specific deaths. Still, the new data is consistent with other findings that show that Massachusetts’ health reform resulted in greater coverage and access to care. The more people who are covered by health care insurance, the better their health will be.

“The conclusion that coverage expansion leads to health benefits by facilitating access is eminently reasonable,” said Austin Frakt, a health economist with the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System in a corresponding editorial. “What is unreasonable and, in my view, unconscionable is to leverage a selective reading of the evidence on the benefits of health insurance in an argument to deny assistance to Americans who cannot afford to purchase basic coverage.”

TIME animals

Suspected Burglar Turns Out to Be a Duck

Wood Duck
Getty Images

Over the weekend, a woman in Massachusetts was in her upstairs bedroom when she heard loud banging noises downstairs. She did what most of us would do: she assumed someone had broken into her house and promptly called the police.

But when officers arrived at the scene, they saw no signs of a break-in, the Associated Press reports. What they did find, however, was a soot-covered wood duck. He apparently got into the woman’s home through the chimney (hence the soot) and then made a bunch of noise. One of the officers managed to catch the animal and release him into a nearby pond.

This is good news for anyone who’s heard a strange noise in their home at night and automatically assumed it was a serial killer or smartphone thief. Now we know that those noises could simply be coming from a confused duck.

TIME Massachusetts

Candidate Who Passed Kidney Stone During Debate Describes Pain

Annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast In South Boston
State Treasurer Steve Grossman speaks at the Annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast on Sunday, March 16, 2014 in South Boston, Mass. Dina Rudick—Boston Globe/Getty Images

Without batting an eye

One day after passing a kidney stone while participating in a gubernatorial debate, Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman says the excruciating memory has not faded.

“It’s like a little piece of volcanic rock and the edges are sharp,” Grossman, a Democratic candidate for governor, told TIME. “And when it’s traveling down the pathway, which is a very small pathway, it digs into the side and tears into the side and it’s painful. It’s not like a ball bearing coming down a tube.”

Remarkably, Grossman displayed almost no sign that he was in intense physical pain for the hour and a half he was on stage at a forum held by WGBH and MassEquality at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. After the debate, a local reporter who has covered Grossman extensively asked the candidate how he was feeling, having noticed that he seemed just the teeniest bit off his game. Grossman admitted he had started passing a kidney stone at 4 a.m. that morning. The reporter Tweeted about it, and soon the news went viral. Soon, there was even a parody account tweeting in the name of Grossman’s kidney stone.

Despite a pain level Grossman said ranged between five and eight on a scale of one to 10, he took only Advil to dull the sensation, he said, so he could keep his wits about him for the debate.

At 9:15 p.m. that evening, after another event following the debate, Grossman’s stone passed through his urinary tract and out into the world. “It’s just relief,” Grossman said. “The pain all of a sudden is gone. You feel kind of, ‘Wow.’ You take a big deep breath and say, ‘Okay, I’m good until the next one.’ ”

Grossman, like his father before him, has dealt with kidney stones for decades. “My feeling is if you want to be governor, you suck it up,” he said.

TIME College

UMass ‘Blarney Blowout’ Descends Into Drunken Chaos

Blarney Blowout Arrests
Police detain a participant in the pre-St. Patrick's Day "Blarney Blowout" near the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. March 8, 2014. Robert Rizzuto—The Republican/AP

Police arrested 73 people at a University of Massachusetts at Amherst pre-St. Patrick's Day party in which unruly students threw beer cans, bottles and snowballs at authorities, leaving four officers with minor injuries

A pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration known as the “Blarney Blowout” spiraled into bedlam Saturday at the University of Massachusetts’ Amherst campus, where police in riot gear arrested at least 70 people at an off-campus apartment complex.

Four police officers suffered minor injuries after unruly students pelted them with beer cans, snowballs and bottles, the Associated Press reports.

A crowd of thousands of revelers had gathered at apartments to celebrate the holiday before their spring break begins this week. Participants were seen vomiting and staggering due to drunkenness. The situation escalated as police moved to disperse the crowd, and the officers used pepper spray and began making arrests.

Police said Sunday a total of 73 people had been taken into custody, after students re-converged at a separate location near a fraternity house and an intersection.

After the crowd dispersed, tear gas hung in the air over discarded beer cans and debris, reports the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Students were upbeat despite the mayhem and the injuries. “Blarney Blowout 2014 was a blast, even though I got tear-gassed,” said Selin Uzumcu, an 18-year-old freshman studying business.

Charges for the rowdy students included inciting to riot, failing to disperse, disorderly conduct, liquor law violations, and assault and battery on officers, police said. Some students have been released on bail while others are being held.

UMass denounced the “unruly behavior” Saturday and said students who were arrested risk suspension or expulsion.

Colleges around the country have gone on high alert to pre-empt St. Patrick’s Day chaos, which frequently causes injuries and property damage at schools.

[AP]

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