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Elizabeth Warren introduces bipartisan bill to honor 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan

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Elizabeth Warren introduces bipartisan bill to honor 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Bay State Sen. Elizabeth Warren is reaching across the aisle to honor the 13 service members who lost their lives last month in a terrorist attack in Kabul, including U.S. Marine Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo of Lawrence.

“These individuals demonstrated incredible courage throughout their careers, and we owe it to them to pass legislation to recognize their heroic service with the Congressional Gold Medal,” Warren said in a statement.

Warren introduced legislation in Congress along with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a Republican, to award those who died on August 26 in an attack at the Kabul airport with the honor, which is Congress’s “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions,” according to the Senate’s website.

Senators from both sides of the aisle have cosponsored the bill. Congresswoman Lisa McClain, R-Mich., introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hundreds, including Gov. Charlie Baker, turned out for Rosario Pichardo’s wake and funeral in Lawrence earlier this week to pay their respects.

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Mastrodonato: Chris Sale hasn’t been a key contributor for the 2021 Red Sox, but he still can be

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Mastrodonato: Chris Sale hasn’t been a key contributor for the 2021 Red Sox, but he still can be

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Chris Sale has meant a lot to the Red Sox over the years, but this can also be true: Sale is pretty far down on the list of most important guys on the Sox’ playoff roster.

And it’s not just because he missed more than half the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Sale will take the ball against the Rays for Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Friday night, when he’ll be looking to prove his value to a team that didn’t use him in the Wild Card Game on Tuesday night and hasn’t seemed particularly encouraged by his performances this year.

Manager Alex Cora explained that Sale wasn’t in the bullpen Tuesday in part to protect his arm after coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Cora said Sale would be in the bullpen Thursday night, but it didn’t seem like he’d use him.

“With him we’re going to be very careful as far as if he is going to be in the bullpen or not, for obvious reasons, right?” Cora said. “But if it’s up to him, he probably would be out there. He will be in the bullpen today, but these guys are important for the present and obviously for the future of the organization. It’s been two years trying to get to this point, all the hard work, all the tears and sweat throughout the process. So we have to take care of him.”

Sale doesn’t want to be taken care of.

“It’s what we did in ’18,” Sale said of throwing out of the bullpen between postseason starts. “We were a little bit more prepared then because we could kind of rest some guys getting into the playoffs, but I mean there’s no reason to save an arm to go sit on the couch. This is all the baseball we have left, and we’re going to get to certain points in these series where tomorrow might not come, so if that’s the case and it’s what’s called upon, it’s my job. It’s what I signed up to do.”

Sale has actually pitched great in his two postseason relief appearances that occurred between starts, throwing a perfect eighth inning to secure a win against the Yankees in the ‘18 Division Series, and striking out the side in the ninth to close out the final game of the World Series against the Dodgers.

“I know a lot of people like to think about the glitz and the glam of what it’s like doing this, but the grit and the grind is what we’re here for,” he said. “And this is what we actually signed up to do, and this is what we live for, so if it’s the first 15, 18, 21 outs or the last two, three, six, whatever it is, we got a bunch of pitchers in there that have the same mindset. It doesn’t matter when or where. Just hand me the ball, and I’m going to sling it until you take it.”

It’s been a grind for Sale to get back to being the pitcher he once was.

His regular season numbers weren’t bad: 5-1, 3.16 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 12 walks in 42-2/3 innings. But seven of those starts were against losing teams, and the two other starts were against the Rays, who knocked him around for 16 hits and seven runs (three earned) in 9-2/3 innings.

He said his changeup has been a bad pitch for him and he’s been working on it all week ahead of this start.

He was also the first to acknowledge he hasn’t done a lot to contribute this year, especially after his ugly start against the Nationals in Game 162.

“I did absolutely nothing to help our team win,” he said. “I actually put us in a horrendous spot in that game, and our guys could have taken that one of two ways and gotten down after I went out there not doing what I was supposed to do and the plan not unfolding.

“Being down late in the game, coming back, rallying back, that was huge. I was obviously very appreciative of that because that would have been a not fun — been a not fun last game of the year.”

Sale knows he’s not the most important player on this team anymore. He’s not even in the top-five.

But a good start on Tuesday would still mean a lot for the Red Sox’ chances.

“I’m figuring this stuff out as we go,” he said. “I say it a lot. I’m not really fighting against anybody as much as I’m fighting against myself trying to sharpen my tools and make better pitches and be — like I said, just consistency.

“I had a lot of time off, you know, and with that comes a little bit of hiccups and things like that, but with who I have in my corner, obviously, the drive that I have myself and just the — it’s just relentless. It’s every day. Every single day I come here to get better.”

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Week 5 Eastern Massachusetts high school football schedule

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Week 5 Eastern Massachusetts high school football schedule

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Brighton vs. Latin Academy, 4 (WS)

Cathedral/Matignon at O’Bryant, 4

Medford at Lynn English, 5

Tilton at Pingree, 5

Brookline at Walpole, 5:30

Sharon at Martha’s Vineyard, 5:30

Austin Prep at Archbishop Williams, 6

Hull at Mashpee, 6

Lowell Catholic at Greater Lawrence, 6

Lynn Classical at Everett, 6

St. John’s Prep at Malden Catholic, 6

St. Luke’s at Dexter Southfield, 6

Sandwich at Nauset, 6

Somerville at Chelsea, 6

Tech Boston at Roxbury Prep, 6

Wakefield at Burlington, 6

Whittier at Essex Tech, 6

Amesbury at Ipswich, 6:30

Bishop Feehan at Arlington Catholic, 6:30

Bishop Fenwick at Cardinal Spellman, 6:30

Bourne at Greater New Bedford, 6:30

Braintree at Needham, 6:30

East Boston at Boston English/New Mission, 6:30

Fairhaven at Case, 6:30

Old Rochester at Seekonk, 6:30

Seekonk at Dennis-Yarmouth, 6:30

Upper Cape at Wareham, 6:30

Weymouth at Milton, 6:30

Apponequet at Somerset Berkley, 7

Ashland at Holliston, 7

Attleboro at King Philip, 7

Barnstable at New Bedford, 7

Belmont at Winchester, 7

Billerica at Tewksbury, 7

Blue Hills at Bristol-Plymouth, 7

BC High at Xaverian, 7

Bridgewater-Raynham at Durfee, 7

Carver at Randolph, 7

Chelmsford at North Andover, 7

Dedham at Millis, 7

Dover-Sherborn at Bellingham, 7

Falmouth at East Bridgewater, 7

Gloucester at Winthrop, 7

Greater Lowell at Bedford, 7

Holbrook/Avon at West Bridgewater, 7

Hopkinton at Norwood, 7

Lawrence at Haverhill, 7

Lowell at Central Catholic, 7

Marblehead at Masconomet, 7

Medfield at Westwood, 7

Medway at Norton, 7

Middleboro at Norwell, 7

Milford at Mansfield, 7

Newton North at Framingham, 7

Newton South at Westford Academy, 7

Northeast at Shawsheen, 7

North Reading at Triton, 7

Oliver Ames at Canton, 7

Plymouth North at Duxbury, 7

Plymouth South at Pembroke, 7

Quincy at Hanover, 7

Rockland at Abington, 7

St. Sebastian’s at Noble & Greenough, 7

Scituate at North Quincy, 7

Stoneham at Melrose, 7

Stoughton at Foxboro, 7

Swampscott at Peabody, 7

Taunton at Franklin, 7

Tri-County at Diman, 7

Whitman-Hanson at Silver Lake, 7

Wilmington at Watertown, 7

Woburn at Reading, 7

Danvers at Beverly, 7:15

Bishop Stang at St. Mary’s, 7:30

SATURDAY’S GAMES

Arlington at Lexington, 10

Minuteman at Georgetown, 10

Dartmouth at Brockton, 12

Atlantis Charter/Bishop Connolly vs. St. John Paul, 1 (Sandwich)

Belmont Hill at Tabor, 1

Cambridge at Waltham, 1

Milton Academy at Lawrence Academy, 1

Natick at Wellesley, 1

St. John’s (S) at Catholic Memorial, 1

Thayer Academy at BB&N, 1

Brooks at Governor’s Academy, 1:30

Newburyport vs. Pentucket, 2 (Haverhill)

Lynnfield at Hamilton-Wenham, 2:30

Groton at Roxbury Latin, 3

Marshfield at Hingham, 3:30

Rivers at St. George’s, 3:30

Manchester-Essex at KIPP, 4

St. Mark’s at Middlesex, 6

DANNY V’S BEST BETS

FRIDAY

Billerica at Tewksbury, 7

Marblehead at Masconomet, 7

Medway at Norton, 7

Milford at Mansfield, 7

Plymouth North at Duxbury, 7

Quincy at Hanover, 7

Rockland at Abington, 7

Woburn at Reading, 7

SATURDAY

Milton Academy at Lawrence Academy, 1

Natick at Wellesley, 1

St. John’s (S) at Catholic Memorial, 1

Newburyport vs. Pentucket, 2 (Haverhill)

Marshfield at Hingham, 3:30

Manchester-Essex at KIPP, 4

 

 

 

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Franks: Follow this logic, into the bathroom if you must

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Franks: Follow this logic, into the bathroom if you must

Increasing universal plans that allow all those who qualify to receive certain benefits, regardless of how good the plans may be, is a clear and present danger to America as we simply cannot afford to do so. Our national debt is nearly $29 trillion dollars. COVID-19 spending is adding to that debt. This is not the time to expand.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the Biden administration has allowed thousands of undocumented immigrants to enter the country on an almost daily basis. Most of these noncitizens could immediately or quickly qualify for many of the entitlement programs and benefits that should be reserved for Americans alone, like health care and public education. Question: Who is going to pay for all this? Future generations? Are we simply going to increase our debt and borrow more money from our friends and foes, like China? This is not good government, nor is it sustainable.

Some members of Congress should understand this very clearly. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory that comes the closest to being an entitlement state. Nearly 70% of its residents have housing subsidized by the federal government. At least 43% of Puerto Rico residents qualify for supplemental nutrition programs, as they live below the poverty level. More than 60% receive Medicare or Medicaid. More than $17 billion in welfare funds flow into Puerto Rico each year for this type of assistance. Being beholden to the U.S. government is not what we want Americans to have to experience.

Since 2017, Puerto Rico has also been on the verge of bankruptcy.

Subsequently, Puerto Rico had the largest drop in population of all the states and territories. About 12% of the people of Puerto Rico have left the island since 2010, according to the 2020 Census.

My home state of Connecticut — one of the wealthiest states in the nation — ranks as one of the top destination locations for Puerto Rico’s fleeing residents, Florida is another.

History shows that socialistic practices used in 1607 by early settlers to Jamestown and by Plymouth settlers in 1620, were not the best way to go. Those attempts at a socialism-like society where everyone shared and benefited equally failed miserably.

However, should capitalism break up monopolies? YES! Should we force all companies to put the American people’s interests above those of their shareholders? YES! It should not be all about the “Benjamins.” After all, without Americans those companies would not have those huge profits that they share among shareholders.

In 2020, Americans rejected the Senate’s lone democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, and the far-left progressives in the Democrat Party. President Biden should not allow Sen. Sanders to usurp his presidency.

Biden has claimed that the $3.5 trillion package presently before Congress that ensures more “universal” entitlement programs was his plan, but it is far more likely Sen. Sanders’ influence is apparent. Add to that is the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that Speaker Pelosi is holding up until the Democrats can pass both provisions. A whopping nearly $5 trillion on top of all the COVID-19 spending. Wow!

The last time we expanded government via an entitlement was during the Obama administration. During the Obama years, the federal debt rose from $11 trillion to just under $20 trillion.

In 2019, 62% of our budget went to mandatory spending. Expanding programs as the far-left/socialist desire would automatically trigger more spending, increasing the bite from available resources, and add a debt service of 8% and defense spending of 15%. This leaves 15 cents to the dollar for all discretionary spending, down from 60 cents a few decades ago. Even aggressive tax increases would be hard-pressed to keep up. I have never seen a federal entitlement eliminated. They have all become permanent.

Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are fighting the good fight to save America from this unsustainable path. Hopefully, they will not quit their fight.

Crude tactics of the far left like following a person into the bathroom, accosting them, and then filming them as they enter a stall is sad and pathetic. It is highly disappointing for President Biden to say, “part of the process … it happens.” Never in my 12 years as an elected official had there been an incident where a politician was confronted in this way. Pray that Sen. Sinema and Sen. Manchin stay strong.

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The Patriots must run the ball better soon — but it might take longer than expected

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The Patriots must run the ball better soon — but it might take longer than expected

FOXBORO — What happens when a bully gets punched in the nose?

He loses two straight at home, turns in the worst rushing performance in franchise history and wonders how to right himself before a long flight to Houston. Just ask the Patriots.

Their offense, led by a rookie quarterback and built to bully opponents on the ground this season, has been thoroughly outmuscled through four weeks. The Pats are averaging 3.5 yards per carry, fourth-worst in the league. No surprise, they’re 1-3, a sharp fall from preseason expectations — even their own.

In August, the Patriots felt so strongly about their rushing potential they dealt one-time starting running back Sony Michel for a couple late-round picks. Then starting right tackle Trent Brown, all of 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds, got hurt. Then James White went down, and the Saints and Bucs took turns pounding their healthy teammates in consecutive weekends, yielding 1.9 yards per carry.

Sooner rather than later, the Pats must punch back. Supporting Mac Jones requires more than solid pass protection, which has been scarce. And it could get worse for him Sunday, despite facing Houston’s 31st-ranked run defense by Football Outsiders’ opponent-and-situation-adjusted metric, DVOA.

Starting center David Andrews was the only starting offensive lineman who practiced Thursday, normally a tell-all day for players whose game statuses are in doubt. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Mike Onwenu remain on COVID-19 reserve, while Brown (calf) and right guard Shaq Mason (abdomen) are still nursing injuries. Brown’s calf has kept him out of three straight games and now back-to-back practices.

Mason, meanwhile, played every snap in the Patriots’ recent loss to Tampa Bay, but hasn’t been spotted since. If he can’t play, interior backup Ted Karras could replace him. Karras relieved Onwenu against the Bucs after a dismal first half at left guard, and practiced at both positions during training camp.

Reviving the run game must start with better interior push.

“Obviously it’s not what we want. As an offensive line, you take pride in running the ball, and these haven’t been our best performances,” Karras said Thursday. “But we’re working hard going into Week 5 here, and just striving to practice well and put forth a Week 5 performance we can be proud of and get a victory.”

Whether Karras plays left or right guard against Houston, it’s a safe bet James Ferentz will fill the other spot. Ferentz, currently on the practice squad, has played at least two games for the Pats each of the past three seasons and earned two starts in 2020 and 2019. Other candidates to play right guard include Yasir Durant, a backup offensive tackle who initially replaced Brown in Week 2.

But before halftime hit, Durant was benched for Justin Herron, who played left tackle in college and is a prime candidate to replace Wynn on Sunday, along with fellow backup Yodny Cajuste. Herron sees a connection between repowering the Patriots’ run game and tightening their protection.

“It’ll definitely relieve some pressure (on Jones),” Herron said Thursday of running the ball.

Ideally, Wynn would be healthy, but whether he’s on COVID-19 reserve for testing positive or simply being a high-risk close contact is unknown. An unvaccinated player who is deemed a high-risk close contact must quarantine for five days and test negative before returning to the team. A vaccinated player only makes COVID-19 reserve if he tests positive.

After a vaccinated player tests positive, he can return to the team once he is asymptomatic and produces two negative PCR tests separated by at least 24 hours. An unvaccinated player who tests positive must isolate for a minimum of 10 days. It’s unknown whether Wynn or Onwenu is fully vaccinated, though Wynn was often spotted wearing a mask heading into training camp practices this summer, which was mandated for unvaccinated players.

However the Pats’ O-line shakes out, expect practice-squad elevations Saturday. Among the candidates there are Ferentz, interior backup Alex Redmond, an experienced veteran, and rookie Will Sherman. Practice-squad center Drake Jackson was absent at Thursday’s practice. Whomever the Patriots call on, they better bring an edge.

“I think it’s just a mentality,” Herron said of the team’s struggles. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us right now.”

The Patriots’ run game has been central to their identity dating back to the final stretch of their last Super Bowl run. There was a brief blip in 2019 when wide receivers Antonio Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas were supposed to set opposing defenses ablaze. But three of the four quickly left town, and Edelman hobbled alone over the middle of the field.

Since then, it’s been back to ground and pound, and an offensive slog. Now, four of the team’s starting offensive linemen could be out Sunday, and the Patriots must press on, leaving past troubles behind so they can steamroll their way back to success.

“I think we’ve left a lot out there, and it’s a battle. It’s a game of inches,” said fullback Jakob Johnson. “And that’s just where we have to improve.”

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Mastrodonato: Red Sox surely missed J.D. Martinez in ALDS Game 1 loss to Rays

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Mastrodonato: Red Sox surely missed J.D. Martinez in ALDS Game 1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s a good bet the Red Sox missed J.D. Martinez on Thursday night.

Manager Alex Cora said the Red Sox had some “empty at-bats” as they went down quietly in a 5-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.

The Rays are too good to show up and play a halfway decent game and expect to win.

The Red Sox did just that, making a crucial defensive mistake that led to the Rays’ first lead, leaving eight men on base and going 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Their starting pitcher, Eduardo Rodriguez, recorded just five outs. They also allowed the Rays to steal home.

It wasn’t the worst game the Red Sox have played, but it was far from their best, and in a series that’ll force the Sox to be almost perfect if they’re going to come back and compete, they have to be desperate for Martinez to return.

Dealing with a swollen ankle, Martinez was added to the playoff roster Thursday and Cora said he’d be available, but the Sox weren’t within reach and he was never used off the bench.

In the first seven innings, the Sox had just two plate appearances with multiple men on base.

The second inning was a big one, as the Red Sox started the frame with a Hunter Renfroe single and an error leading to Alex Verdugo reaching first base safely. With two on and nobody out, and the Sox behind 2-0, it was perhaps the biggest chance of the game to turn the momentum back in Boston’s favor.

Rays lefty Shane McClanahan was throwing 98-mph fastballs with late life. Bobby Dalbec saw two right down the middle and got on top of the final one, grounding into a double play to end the threat in the second inning.

The next time the Sox had two guys on was in the fourth and again Dalbec stepped up. He hit a line drive but it was right into the third baseman’s glove to end the inning.

Dalbec didn’t have a bad game, hitting a few hard shots that couldn’t find holes, but he also swung at a questionable first pitch in the ninth inning when the Sox were desperate for baserunners and finished the night 0-for-4 with four men left on base.

That he hit the ball hard is a good sign. But if Martinez was healthy, Dalbec might not have been in the lineup to begin with.

Cora wasn’t thrilled with Dalbec’s at-bats in the final weeks of the season and even benched him against a lefty for just the fifth time all year.

It wasn’t Dalbec’s fault the Red Sox lost. Nobody played particularly well.

Rafael Devers had a tough game, striking out twice, including in a key spot in the eighth, and there’s some question as to whether or not he’s playing hurt.

But there’s no question the Sox missed Martinez’s presence in the lineup.

“We had traffic out there, and we just didn’t cash in,” Cora said. “Bobby hit a few missiles with men on. Obviously, in the eighth we loaded the bases; we didn’t score. There were some good at-bats in the middle of the game, grind at-bats. Others were kind of empty. But I think overall we did a good job hitting line drives and staying in the middle of the field.”

The Sox approach wasn’t a bad one, it just wasn’t enough.

They’ll have to find a way to get it done against standout rookie right-hander Shane Baz in Game 2 on Friday or risk returning to Fenway Park down 2-0 in the series.

“Obviously, situations like this you have to score runners,” said second baseman Christian Arroyo. “As an offense I thought we did a good job of getting our knocks, but you got to have that blow, you know?

“We just didn’t have that gut-punching blow with runners in scoring position to get stuff rolling. It’s baseball.”

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Boston Marathon bombing survivor on hope, pain and pot

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Boston Marathon bombing survivor on hope, pain and pot

Thousands of spectators will line Boylston Street in Boston on Monday for the running of the Boston Marathon, just like I did on a sunny afternoon in 2013.

On that fateful day, my arm and leg were ripped wide open from flying shrapnel from a pressure cooker bomb that was detonated by terrorists at the finish line.

I was a victim of terror that day, but I also became a survivor. I survive every day. I survive through painful surgeries and debilitating anxiety. I survive in an effort to help others; people who are suffering like me.

I’ve forged friendships that were born in blood and smoke on Boylston Street, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and at the Bataclan in Paris.

I’ve traveled to these places that have been turned into war zones. I’ve looked into the eyes of those who have lost loved ones and parts of themselves to senseless violence.

Since the Boston Marathon bombings, I’ve been on a mission to share my experiences with others around the world, especially those who have faced the worst of human nature to show them there is still light, there is still hope.

But each heart-wrenching conversation creates additional stress for me, as I am forced to relive those terrifying moments when I thought I was going to die.

I take those thoughts to bed with me and I cannot sleep. That’s when the nightmares take over. I was prescribed several medications, which did not work, or left me feeling groggy and not myself.

I explored cannabis and it’s been truly life changing for me. It has finally allowed me to rest my body and my mind. I don’t feel like I’m underwater anymore. I wake up each morning with the knowledge that I am healing myself so that I can help others through the process. With a clear mind, I can take a morning run and think about how I’m going to tackle the day.

Cannabis has offered me healthy relaxation so that I can then focus on my mission, which is to pay it forward.

When I was hurt in the bombing, I had to rely on strangers who created makeshift tourniquets to stop my bleeding. For them, it was an instantaneous and humanitarian mission to save my life and others. Without them, I would not be here right now. That’s why I felt compelled to travel to France after the deadly terror attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French newspaper in January 2015 and again months later after the Bataclan tragedy to offer whatever help I could.

I hate how we have all met, but the fellow survivors that I have spent time with on this long and painful journey have become family to me.

As survivors, we communicate in a way that only we can understand.

During the pandemic, I have continued my outreach remotely. Whether it’s a phone call, over Zoom, by text or a simple card, I want each of them to know that they are not alone.

Next week, when I see those runners headed toward the finish line on television, and I hear those cheering crowds, I will be reminded of the day that changed my life and the lives of hundreds more.

I will no longer reach for prescription pills to alleviate my anxiety. Instead, I will be comforted in knowing that cannabis will get me the sleep I need to get me through the day in a more healthy way, so I can continue to spread a message of hope and understanding to others who have endured so much.


Michelle L’Heureux is a Boston Marathon bombing survivor and a spokesperson for Curaleaf’s I Cannabis campaign.

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Ask Amy: Distanced family visit causes heartache

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Ask Amy: Woman should leave abusive relationship

Dear Amy: My wife and I recently visited our cross-border family for the first time since COVID struck. We insisted on no vaccine protocols for my wife’s family, even though the unvaccinated children are all in school.

We only applied a protocol to my mother, who is unvaccinated, but also extremely insular (she is the guardian to three disabled children, and seldom leaves the house or receives anyone).

We said we would not meet with her indoors because of her vaccination status. We would see her only in the yard.

I told my wife that it hurt me that we would do this, and she expressed regret that it hurt me, but would not reconsider her choice.

I even showed her that the unvaccinated children on her side of the family likely presented much higher risk to us.

She was unmoved.

Now the visit is over but I’m swimming in a fog of guilt and depression about it. I’ve tried to tell her that this hurt me badly, and she doesn’t seem to care.

She reminds me that she bent “the rules” to see my mother at all, even though my wife also rides public transit daily, presumably with a number of unvaccinated people at any given moment.

Is vaccination status so sacrosanct for adults that family must be treated this way? Am I right to keep feeling hurt? Am I right to be alarmed that my hurt is worth so little to this woman?

— Pro-Vax-But-Feeling-Stunned

Dear Pro-Vax: You let your wife prohibit you from being in close proximity to your mother. Yes, it seems that she is making the rules for both of you, but altering those rules when it suits her.

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Lucas: Biden and Pelosi an odd couple

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Lowry: Democrats serving lots of ‘zero cost’ baloney

It is only proper for President Biden to hold hands with Nancy Pelosi.

True, she is not Jill Biden, his wife.

Nor is she Kamala Harris, his vice president, who is never around anyway.

But Democrats Biden, 78, and Pelosi, 80, are peers and colleagues, both having served in Washington for a lifetime. And both are on the back nine.

Also, Pelosi as speaker of the House is third in line for the presidency if something should happen to Nos. 1 and 2.

Time is running out in more ways than one. Biden has dropped precariously in the polls and will become a lame duck in 2023 when as expected the Republicans take over the House and possibly the Senate as well.

So, it is only natural that the two walk holding hands and boost one another’s morale, even though it looked as though she were escorting a wobbly Biden toward the Early Bird Special instead of a hearing room. The next thing you know he’ll be sniffing her hair.

Pelosi was guiding Biden to a Friday private Capitol Hill meeting of House Democrats. The meeting was an attempt to cope with the division among Democrats over how best to bankrupt the United States.

The left-wing radicals of the Democrat Party want to do it right away while the moderates want to give it a couple of weeks.

Biden ran for president promising to unite the country.

It turns out he cannot even unite his party. Despite his plea, the radical progressives and the Squad, which includes Boston Rep. Ayanna Pressley, were able to stall House action on his $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill by insisting that the House first pass Biden’s controversial $3.5 trillion plan to socialize the country.

So, they ended up with nothing, at least for now. Pelosi, however, promised another go around by Halloween, which is an appropriate time to scare people.

Pressley called the non-passage of  the two bills “a great victory,” which is also scary. It is like Bill Belichick calling his loss to Tom Brady “a great win.”

The Biden $3.5 trillion, 2,400-page bill, called “The Come on, Man Plan” — which nobody in Congress read — includes such items as $3 billion for “tree equity,” which is designed to end discrimination in the planting of trees.

Everyone knows that rich people have more trees than poor people, unless, of course, you are homeless and live in the woods.

If you read the small print in the bill, though, you will probably find that a federal Tree Equity Commission would be set up to hold hearings before establishing rules and regulations regarding the kind of trees that can be planted.

Deep down in the smaller print you may also discover that people would have the right to file suit if the government does not plant an appropriate kind of tree in front of your house within 60 days of passage of the bill.

Before you know it, the progressives will demand creation of District Tree Courts to handle the many expected complaints over who got what kind of tree when. The trial court lawyers will love it more than a car crash.

It is obvious the government can’t give every household the same kind of tree even in the name of tree equity. Progressives know there must be tree diversity as well as tree equity.

Trees don’t discriminate, but people planting them might. That is why a “tree czar” will be needed to monitor compliance.

There will, of course be problems in the fair distribution and planting of the trees. For one thing, in order to maintain our healthy forests and fight climate change, Biden will probably sign an executive order banning forest harvesting in the U.S just the way he shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. lumberjacks — if they still exist — will be out of work, like the thousands of Keystone pipeline workers. The tree jobs will go to Russia, just like the Keystone pipeline jobs did when Biden allowed Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to be completed.

Russia has vast forests, and the U.S. can begin importing trees from Russia, like it is now importing oil.

But there will be a tree in front of every American home.

It’s all crazy, of course, but no crazier than what the crazy progressives are doing to the country.


Peter Lucas is a veteran Massachusetts political reporter and columnist.

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David Schultz: Rent control produces winners, losers and consequences — intended and unintended

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David Schultz: Rent control produces winners, losers and consequences — intended and unintended

St. Paul shares with Minneapolis and many Minnesota cities a housing affordability problem that extends to rental costs for apartments, making it difficult for all, but especially low-income households, to find a reasonably priced place to live. While a metro-wide solution may be needed, a rent control or stabilization proposition is on the St. Paul ballot this November. Is it a viable solution?

Thus far the debate on housing affordability and rent stabilization in St. Paul has taken place as if no other city in the country has been here. The reality is we have more than 180 cities and decades of experiences across the country regarding rent control.

What can we learn from those experiences? While there are many forms of rent stabilization, the simple answer is that it produces winners and losers, as well as intended and unintended effects, depending on the specific stabilization policies adopted.

In general, the case for rent control is simple: Freeze rents or limit increases for certain types of  buildings, often allowing for reasonable costs plus indexed inflation.

Most economists argue rent control is bad. Rental housing is a commodity. The only way to decrease the cost of rental  housing is to increase supply or decrease demand. Building more rental housing of any kind decreases costs.

Many economists will also argue that rent control does not work because it caps the rent that landlords can charge, and they will delay maintenance. It creates disincentives to build new units, since the profits will not be there. If apartments are unprofitable, owners will take them off the market, delay maintenance, convert units to condos or co-ops, or simply move new construction to another jurisdiction. Studies collected by the Brookings Institution on what happened in San Francisco, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, lend some evidence to these claims.

But that is not the full story.

Research by housing economists shows housing markets are segmented by geography and cost. The market for low-income housing is different from that of high-end units, and building one will not necessarily impact another. Similarly, for all who have heard the mantra that only three things matter in housing — location, location, and location — there is truth in that sentiment. Studies suggest building more housing units can lower rental costs, but not necessarily for low-income  units; the benefit may accrue more to the middle class.

Building more high-end units will not lower the costs for low-income units. They are separate markets. Developers will build units that yield the highest profit margin, and that is not necessarily middle-class or low-income rental housing. The best way to provide affordable  housing for the middle class and people with low income is building such units or providing incentives to do that.

The point here is that there is little evidence that simply building more apartments or freezing rents makes units more affordable if there is already a shortage of appropriate units.

Studies do substantiate that short-term rent control can stabilize rental costs, but the primary  benefit is to existing tenants, often those who are middle class. While it promotes stability in the sense of encouraging people to stay in their apartments, as a California study demonstrated, rent stabilization alone does not do this. It works more effectively when accompanied with vacancy control. This means then that existing tenants benefit and they have little incentive to leave. This is good in that it helps present occupants, bad in that it makes it hard for new renters to find affordable units. This is the experience in New York and San Francisco.

While short-term stabilization policies might work, longer term the Urban Institute’s examination of several studies suggests that they exacerbate gentrification as they encourage landlords to convert low-income or low-profit units to more profitable condos or townhomes. A study of 76 cities in New Jersey with rent control over a 30-year period finds little, longer-term evidence that they have produced more affordability than cities lacking rent control. Longer term, rent control policies, deployed alone without other policies to address overall rental unit shortages, tend to create fewer units that are on the market.  Rent control tends to work well when there is a surplus of units to prevent speculation. But as in the case of St. Paul, where there is already a shortage of units, limiting rent increases will not solve a pre-existing problem.

In most cities where rent control exists, the laws do not apply to owner-occupied dwellings, or buildings with less than a certain number of units, such as six in New York City. These may be owners or the types of buildings more sharply hurt by rent stabilization policies in the sense that they cannot absorb inflationary costs. There is often, as the Urban Institute points to, an appeal process for hardships or extenuating circumstances, often necessitating some administrative expenditures and processes to address rental cost disputes.

Some landlords will argue that rent control laws are unconstitutional in that they constitute a regulatory taking of property by limiting rents. Yet the Supreme Court in Block  v. Hirsch, as well as other courts, have upheld such laws. Although an argument can be made that strict rent controls without accounting for costs might be unconstitutional.

Finally there is evidence that rent control in New York, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Massachusetts can benefit people of color since oftentimes they are more likely to live in such units. Yet there is also evidence that rent control aggravates racial segregation, fails to deconcentrate poverty, and augments gentrification.

Rent control alone is a crude solution to a serious problem. Rent control is a Band-Aid on a larger problem and, if implemented wrongly, it produces secondary effects that distort housing markets for decades. It produces winners, such as existing tenants and maybe people of color, but it also hurts developers and perhaps mom-and-pop landlords. There are short-term and long-term benefits that also affect various constituencies differently. Bottom line: Depending on the type of rent stabilization employed, it will have varying impacts on diverse interests

Used more carefully and in conjunction with other strategies, such as directly building more affordable units, rent stabilization may serve as a partial tool to addressing the problem that a free-market delivery of housing produces.

David Schultz is Hamline University Distinguished Professor of Political Science and has served both as a city director of planning, zoning, and code enforcement and as a housing and economic planner for a community action agency.

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Letters: People of all political stripes need to stop kidding themselves about climate

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Letters: People of all political stripes need to stop kidding themselves about climate

Climate context

In his October 3 column about woodpeckers, columnist Joe Soucheray bemoans that climate change is an over-hyped, go-to “culprit” of the media. His aside that, “the climate has always changed” is a tired argument that climate deniers tried ages ago.

Soucheray thinks the media lack context — he himself might get some by reading the latest, devastating IPCC Report on Climate Change which establishes that only a narrow window remains to stop its worst effects from happening. The fear is not that global warming will continue gradually, but exponentially.

And his notion that birds are not at risk of extinction is sadly false. Not only are birds at risk — but up to 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction.

People of all political stripes need to stop kidding themselves: the very human race is also at risk of extinction if our government and others do not act now, urgently.

Nick Huelster, St. Paul

 

Positions

The following is a list of positions that a candidate for Saint Paul Mayor should have.

Respect for the police. Do not speak disparagingly about the police. Fully fund the Police Department. Bring the number of police officers back up to their fully staffed levels.

Recognize that the main purpose of streets and roads is to move vehicles as efficiently and safely as possible. Return the current citywide speed limit of “20 mile per hour unless posted otherwise” to 30 miles per hour. Stop narrowing reconstructed roads and vehicle lanes. Recognize there is a need for drivers to find parking spaces. Increase street maintenance.

Listen to constituents. Stop mandating from the mayor’s office. We are intelligent beings who do not need to be told how to live by a governmental agency.

Ron Schaaf, St. Paul

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