Activists gathered last week outside the Holy Grounds Coffee House on Main Street in Springfield, to protest the harsh anti-homosexuality bill recently passed in Uganda.
Holy Grounds was started by the Rev. Scott Lively, an evangelical minister (and Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate) who’s written books and otherwise issued alarums about the “gay agenda” and its alleged threats to society. (He speaks publicly on topics such as “The Final Frontier: The homosexual infiltration of American public schools: how it’s happening and how to stop it”; “Helping the Homosexual Struggler: Causes and complications of the homosexual life and the road to recovery”; and “The Pink Swastika: The role of homosexuality in the rise and rule of Nazism and the alarming implications for our nation.”)
Lively also traveled to Uganda in 2009 to speak at an anti-gay conference that led up to the recently passed law criminalizing homosexuality. Earlier drafts of that bill had included the death penalty in certain cases. The final version, which still carries lengthy prison sentences, has met with international criticism—and local protest. Last week’s rally at Lively’s coffee house, organized by the Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition, was part of a global day of protest.
Managers of entertainment venues up and down the Valley are worried about the impact of a casino on their bookings (“Can Northampton Beat the House?”, March 6, 2014). Massachusetts law allows live stages to apply for “Impacted Live Entertainment Venue” status, but so far the state Gaming Commission hasn’t been generous with that designation. The commission recently denied the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield the ILEV designation after MGM, developer of a casino proposed for Springfield, promised not to hold live shows during the Big E’s annual 17-day run. Commission chair Stephen Crosby and Commissioner Bruce Stebbins, a former Springfield city councilor, voted for ILEV status for the fair but were outvoted by the other three commissioners.
The Big E, a nonprofit, is 100 years old this year, and brings an estimated $225 million a year into the area’s economy with the annual fall fair and other events it hosts. Springfield’s Majestic Theater had also petitioned for ILEV status, but withdrew its petition after MGM agreed to buy a full house for one evening during each of the Majestic’s five annual productions for five years—possibly to arrange events for its employees—and to buy advertisements in the Majestic’s playbills for eight years. The Majestic will advertise the casino in its promotional materials.
From the Recycling Bins of Babes
“Schools are a place of learning, might as well make it so that kids learn the habit of recycling.”
That’s the straightforward premise behind a new online petition that calls for mandatory recycling in all Massachusetts schools. The effort was started by Alexander LaMarche, a senior at Palmer High School. He plans to send the petition to Gov. Deval Patrick and the state legislature.
“I think it’s a good idea,” LaMarche told the Advocate. “It will get kids my generation and younger into recycling, making the world a cleaner, better place.”
If you agree, check out the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/massachusetts-governor-recycling-in-public-and-private-schools.
By the Numbers
That’s the number of cattle and calves in the American herd this January after four years of rising feed costs and drought in the Midwest and West. It’s the lowest number for January since 1951, and consumers are being warned to expect rises in the price of beef.
That’s the number of cows and heifers in the American herd, the lowest number since 1941.
“It’s time to get rid of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This supposed celebration of Irish pride and culture has instead become a paean to bigotry. It’s an embarrassment to Boston. It should embarrass Irish-Americans. It surely embarrasses this one.”
Columnist Margery Eagan, writing last week in the Boston Herald