^ it’s personal to him ; Mayor Walsh goes all out against substance abuse in the city

—- —- —-

If there’s one thing that newly installed Mayor Marty Walsh is doing really, really right, it’s his all-out attack on the scourge of substance abuse. A new policy paper issued by Walsh’s office tells the whole story, in this link :

It’s hardly a new issue for Walsh. It is personal for him. He himself is a recovered substance abuser, and, at the very first “Mondays With Marty” that I attended, way back in mid-summer of his Mayor campaign, he made a statement that stuck with me : “there is heroin epidemic in Boston .”

I believed him because he had seen it.

We all know that substance abuse threatens to overwhelm communities; to snuff out many, many lives; to disable many more; to make employment difficult and family life all but impossible; and, thus, to over-burden the state’s already overtaxed DCF agency.

Make no mistake : you don’t like how DCF has been doing its job ? Then do something about our State’s substance abuse epidemic. Because until that wave is conquered, DCf will have far more families to intervene with than it can handle on the best of days.

Mayor Walsh has taken several worthy steps, as set forth in the link above, including equipping all first responders with the overdose antidote known as Narcan; holding drug abuse forums in neighborhoods across the city; and sponsoring take-backs of expired medicines. all that is needed now is for the public to know about them. Very few people attended a recent substance abuse forum in Jackson Square that I was at, and the people who did attend seemed more community activists than abusers or family members of abusers.

the people who need to be reached don’t easily come go substance abuse forums…

Still, the push back against substance abuse has started now. To that push I would recommend to Mayor Walsh the following initiatives :

1.make sure that substance abuse info forums are well publicized, on social media and with copious fliers at street level with DCF, so that the families most impacted by substance abuse can receive help from city health workers as well as from DCF people

3.just as Mayor Kevin White hired Youth Workers, to meet with youth in socially vulnerable neighborhoods and support them, hire neighborhood workers specific briefed to intervene in the lives of drug abusers and their families — it being as much a public health problem as a public safety issue all these efforts with the City’s public school staffs.

5.expand, promote, and support city sports programs. it’s my experience that kids involved in sports are less likely to take a bad path

6.because substance abuse isn’t only a youth issue — many abusers are 25 to 40 years old, co-ordinate intervention and outreach initiatives with neighborhood health centers, churches and mosques, community houses, and gyms.

7.Regularly convene meetings of the top staffs of all the institutions and organizations I’ve mentioned, to exchange ideas and to report both progress and failures.

Winning the fight against substance abuse will take many, many years of all-out commitment by many, many organizations as well as concerned citizens. I probably shouldn’t even say ‘winning,’ because the problem is world wide and cannot be extinguished by efforts merely local. But a sustained and ubiquitous local effort can definitely cut the substance abuse epidemic way, way back within one committed city.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



“Yesterday the Federal justice department announced a plan to canvass the entire federal prison … to find inmates who committed low-level crimes and could be released early.”

So said today’s Boston Globe; the announcement wa also liberally tweeted. We are glad to hear of this. We fully approve.

In 1980 the entire Federal prison population totaled 24,363. Today 216,285 people live in federal prisons. Over 2,2000,000 people live imprisoned in America’s federal, state, and local prisons. It’s by far the highest number of any first-world nation.

People live their whole adult lives in American prisons. Prisoners aged 65, 75, even 85 and 90 years old abound in America’s jails. Hardly any other civilized nation keeps people locked up in old age. we do. Why ?

Aged prisoners are expensive to keep; much of their time is spent in hospitals or being medicated (when they’re not simply left untreated, maybe to die).

Finally, after thirty years of wielding the lock and key, the shackles and cells, our federal government — and a few states — are saying ‘enough.” Prison henceforth is to be strictly for the violent felon. That’s how it should be.

The pardon power and the authority to grant clemency have been central to governance since Roman imperial days and before. They are venerable, not novel. Presidents used to use their clemency and pardon powers liberally ; let punishment of crime use the stick and. in some cases, the carrot. But of late, through rear of what happens when a prisoner granted clemency commits a horrendous new crime — one thinks of Willie Horton in 1987, a murderer who, while on furlough, killed again, heinously — politicians have become unwilling to pardon or be clement. President Obama, accused by opponents of being a radical leftist (which he most definitely is not), has pardoned almost no one. The same is true of our own state’s Governor Deval Patrick.

This was, and is, a huge mistake.

Sentencing itself has been revised in recent years. Gone are the draconian penalties attached to drug dealing; drug use has become almost accepted. States and the federal government have seen that drug crimes are more a matter of taste than criminal minds. In this era of stringent government budgeting, the cost of trying and imprisoning drug offenders looks quite unacceptable.

The pardon and clemency now being planned thus arises from financial rather than moral considerations. This we dislike. Clemency and pardon are moral decisions, a hand of friendship, a restorative by which offender and community are re-united. The financial motive at work today does matter; government has an obligation to spend wisely. but the cost savings in clemency and pardon fall far short of the moral benefit of granting them.

we hope that when the federal pardons and clemency now being assessed are finally on the president’s desk gor signing, he will add to his many signings many words of restoration, re-union, and rightfulness.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ slain because he refused to let a stranger — who turned out to be Aaron Hernandez, big shot — get in front of him in line ? Daniel Abreu

below : Safiro Furtado, who evidently also refused to let the large stranger get in front of him in that Cure line


Of all the murders now on prosecutors’ table in Massachusetts, none puzzle me more than those allegedly committed by ex-football star Aaron Hernandez. Underworld murders one grasps; they’re part of the business, and all who enter the criominal life understand that. Terrorist murders, though truly nutty, at least profess a larger purpose. But what the blazes were the murders about that Hernandez is accused of doing ?

Though nothing at all has yet been proved, and we should keep that strongly in mind, the events now outlined by various police investigations tell us a whole lot. But first let’s look at what is alleged to have happened :

1.Hernandez and a friend (said to be Alexander Bradley) are standing in line outside Cure Lounge on Tremont Street, waiting to be let in. It is midnight. There is often a line outside Cure at that time — I’ve seen them. Directly ahead of them in line are two men, who we later learn are Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Anyway, Hernandez and friend finally enter Cure directly after Abreu and Furtado.

2.Hernandez downs two drinks — the Herald says that he “slammed” them — and then leaves, with Bradley in tow.

3.The two immediately get their car, the now infamous silver SUV with Rhode island license plates, and circle the block waiting for Abreu and Furtado to leave.

4.Two hours later (!!) they’re still circling ! Now Abreu and Furtado leave, with three other people. (Q : If Bradley was in the car with Hernandez, didn’t he say something like “it ain’t worth it, man. Forget about it”? If he did not say thus,why didn’t he ? More on this below.)

5.Hernandez and Bradley follow them, circle a block, then pull up alongside the Abreu & Furtado car at a stoplight.

6.Someone fires five shots, killing Abreu and Furtado and injuring others in that car.

The question immediately comes to mind : huh ? What happened here ?

What indeed. There’s no indication that Hernandez knew the two men, nor was there any report of any altercation between him and them inside Cure. What the blazes got Hernandez so ticked off that he went out, waited two hours for the men to leave, and then shot them ?

Only one explanation makes any sense at all :  Is it not likely that he asked the two men to let him get in line ahead of them — and they refused ?

This was enough, it would seem, to violate the ego of a man to whom being a big shot was everything in a life otherwise filled with danger, hangers-on, and living for the moment.

It seems small. It’s also completely ordinary. Stuff like what happened to Hernandez in that Cure line happens to lots of people. You get refused like that, you get angry you want to kill the people who take you down, ka-bang. That’s human nature for many. But then life goes on, and you forget about it. Hernandez couldn’t forget about it. He was with his friend. His friend saw it go down. Hernandez the big shot, the star Patriot tight end, could not be seen being taken down. His front had been pied. And so the waiting and the killing. To wipe the pie off his front.

And that is why Bradley probably did not say “it ain’t worth it” to Hernandez. He either said nothing or perhaps he even encouraged Hernandez. Not because he wanted the two men to die but because he did not want HIMSELF to die. He knew his man. In  fact, about eight months later, so it is reported, Hernandez did try to kill Bradley.

Killings like this happen all the time in the criminal underworld. Front is the only shield that criminals have against being killed themselves. They need to be feared. Especially they need to look tough to their crew. Not fearful, no crew. No crew, dead man. This, we understand. But how to understand it of a $ 40 million football star ? In his life it was murder for murder’s sake.

Out of the ego killing that night arose the next murder, the one for which Hernandez now faces trial as the accused. It seems equally senseless.

1.Hernandez and Odin Lloyd go to Rumor, another nightclub not far from Cure.

2.At Rumor, Lloyd talks to someone who, Hernandez says, he has “had trouble with.”

3.Two nights later, Hernandez calls two Bristol, Connecticut buddies to come join him. The two men dash up — after all, when a $ 40 million football star calls you, and you’re basically about nothing, you are thrilled that he called you. It makes you somebody.

4.At about 12.30 am the three men go to Lloyd’s house and he joins them in their car. (Question : did he not sense danger ? He surely did, but what choice did he have ? If he had refused to join them, he was a dead man, and he knew it, because he KNEW Hernandez. Heck, he was dating the sister of Hernandez’s financee. So into the car he went.)

5.At about 1.30 AM Lloyd texts his sister a couple times, the last one being to tell her “I’m with HIM. Just so you know.” (Q : the three guys LET Lloyd keep his cell phone and send texts ?)

6.About fifteen minutes later Lloyd is ouside the car and is shot dead.

The police report says that Lloyd was killed because “possibly he had information about the killing of Abreu and Furtado” and that that is why he was killed. This made no sense.

But now we find out things that do make sense. We learn that a security staffer at Rumor — a man known to me, as much more at Rumor than just a staffer — told police that “someone spilled the beans” about the 2012 killing “right in front of me.”

Could this “security staffer” be the person whom Hernandez had “had trouble with” ? Could it be that that “staffer’ had been working as such at Cure on the 2012 night in question, and that at Rumor, Lloyd had said hello to him, as somebody he, Lloyd, knew, and that conversation had then ensued ? And which Hernandez saw and heard, remembering very well who the “staffer” was ?

In this case, Hernandez waited not two hours but two nights to make his move. He had been seen packing heat at Rumor before; but evidently not on the night in question. Besides, at Rumor it was only him and Lloyd. He needed backup.

All of this is standard issue in the criminal underworld. People with information get killed all the time. By their close friends ? Of course ; who better to get inside a man’s guard than a close friend ? What is NOT standard issue is to see this sort of thuggery in the daily calendar of a $ 40 million football star. But that — big time football star — is how WE see Hernandez. He evidently saw himself differently. VERY differently — from inside himself.

One last time I caution you that none of the criminal acts narrated by me have yet been offered as evidence, much less proved. The Hernandez trial has yet to begin; the indictment is still in the pre-trial, procedural stage. But the narration is a common one in a world in which fear rules everyone every minute of every day and every word one says, even every item of clothing one wears; fear, worry, anger, and living — regardless of what the side doors of one’s life open onto, stardom included — entirely by the sneer and bad-ass of one’s paper-thin front page.

For the thinness of that paper front, folks have to die.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

“SECRET LETTERS To Home One Stop-Loss Soldiers story Letter#3


“SECRET LETTERS” to home one stop-loss soldiers story LETTER # 3

According to Wikipedia, the Stop-loss definition is:

“Stop-loss is a term primarily used in the United States military. In the U.S. military, it is the involuntary extension of a service member’s active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date and up to their contractually agreed end of obligated service (EOS). It also applies to the cessation of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during deployments to SomaliaHaitiBosniaKosovo and after the September 11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror.”

The policy has been legally challenged several times. However, Federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended until the end of their obligated service.

However, in real life it is much more than that. The term and its definition are minimal at best. Truth be told, even a cynic can not sit back and agree that such an act by OUR government is that of a free country — let alone a “free-man / soldier, who has served his country — and his term.

Through the years stop-loss has become much more “in our faces”, as undeclared “wars” have called many a soldier back to a place to which they barely survived — once, never-mind a forceful twice-go-round. In a 2004 Campaign speech by the then presidential candidate John Kerry — stop-loss was described accurately as a “back-door draft”. At that time, both politicians and war activists insisted and proclaimed its use an abuse of the law. Since Congress had not officially declared a war — the basis for using stop-loss was to them as well as those affected just that : “abuse”……

Much controversy, political agenda, hype, and inaccurate depictions of this “injustice” surround the topic whenever it is brought to our attention in any form. So how do we as Americans differentiate between fact and fiction — media agenda, propaganda, misguided citizens, and hoaxes — and how do we get the real stories, the guts and grit of the truth without literally being in that situation ourselves ?

In a weekly editorial, Here and Sphere will cautiously report one brave, wounded, forgotten, scared for his life, stop-loss soldier’s story. Though we can not completely vouch for it’s full accuracy — we will deliver this soldier’s encrypted letters, each with all its content — and let you, our readers, decide for yourselves. Our job is to report the news, and bring you the stories that matter to you. In “TOP SECRET” Letter to Home — One stop-loss soldier’s story — we will do just that.

Letter #3

Today was a good day all things considered. Normally that would bring about a smile or sigh of relief — but a good day here is a nightmare at best, back on American soil.

Today my team lead by a “new guy”. The sapling of a superior was freshly dropped here in the middle of yet another cold sand-swept night. Meeting him first thing this morning — all gung-ho, and clueless as to what he would soon become a part of — was almost stomach turning. Much like a doe eyed child full of innocence about to learn something horrific and life-altering. Today our mission was “simple” — cut off water supplies and all aid to the “local threats” one town over.

When I say the word simple, I mean only that it should if carried out correctly be a mission easily achieved — without casualties, and senseless violence. Though we were lucky enough to not lose one of our own — the casualty-less mission I hoped and prayed for — did not play out as I had wished.

Before the desert sun even peaked at us,we geared up and were on our way. All orders had been given — subject to change upon arrival, if our calculations were off even the slightest — and of course they were. I took my post at the highest point of the village, finding my spot was easy — I gained access without harm to myself or anyone else. Once our team was fully in place, orders previously given — went into effect. For the sake of those that watch movies and T.V. I will use familiar lingo — as to paint a picture that may be relatable — but here it is somewhat, okay very different.

Alpha team we will call that me and my 4 watchman — steady handed and sighted on targets pre-assigned we sit and wait. Bravo team began their slow and careful descent into the village as not to awaken the chaos. Delta team came from their angles to help surround the main water source and medical tent — therein began our problem.

Previous recon missions of the medical tent had shown no guard during this particular time — on 4 separate missions, not once had one been spotted. With the main valves off — and “our equipment” that once supplied this village back in our possession — they would have no way once sealed to re-establish a water supply. Bravo team had done their job and were regrouping back at the predetermined zone before hitting target 2. Delta stayed positioned waiting patiently to assist in retrieving, or destroying the medic tent — once Bravo gave the order.

As I looked at the tent I realized that this time WE WERE WRONG… A heavily armed guard paced by the hindquarters of the medic tent — searching for any sign of attack, or threat. Intently I watched as he paced in an almost eerie nazi reminiscent fashion — 4-5 steps one way — full turn — 4-5 steps back in the previous direction. Then it happened — SPOTTED –the last of our Bravo members to get close enough was seen. The foot soldier raised his weapon and aimed as steady as he could, getting ready to summons help…………..THEN ( shot fired ) one single perfectly aimed silent bullet — a few more minutes, enough time to be ghosts, and a fire that took down a whole tent and all its supplies erupted in seconds. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!! (Disgusting)

Back on base Alpha team leader newbie sat crying like a baby — AND JUSTLY SO. I felt connected to him, I knew his disbelief and pain, anger and more. But just like he came to us — HE WAS GONE…

Why him? I am broken too, why can’t I disappear into the night and sand and cold? Why can’t I come home? — Perhaps I’ll never know, PLEASE PRAY THAT I WILL.

Signed: One stop-loss missing home soldier.

As told by:Heather Cornell


arrest phot amanda

 Born ,wrapped in a bag right out of the restroom garbage can, then carelessly discarded in the tank of a sports-bar bathroom — and left to die! That was the quick and atrocious beginning of life — right to the tragic death — for this Pennsylvania newborn boy.

screenshots of the bathroom

26-year-old Allentown Pennsylvania resident, Amanda Catherine Hein — went out with friends on August 18th to watch a pay-per-view wrestling match, at Starters Pub in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. While sitting with her party at a booth in the bar, she began experiencing severe back pain and excused herself. According to witnesses including her friend “Rivera” — she was gone for a lengthy period of time, possibly 40 minutes or longer — before returning, grabbing her purse and heading outside. Hein smoked a cigarette before returning to the group to finish watching the rest of the wrestling match. Say’s District Attorney: John Morganelli.  At some point “Rivera” noticing a fairly large amount of blood on the seat asked Hein “if she needed to go to the hospital?” — to which she replied ” I have no insurance”, at that point Hein was dropped off at home.

starterspub side view

Starters Pub a sports bar on Route 378 in Bethlehem Pennsylvania — an estimated 30 miles from Philadelphia — is now the admitted crime scene of the baby boy’s disconcerting death.Bar owner Dave Rank was still in disbelief, and clearly still in shock as he explained that — A cleaning crew for the pub found the baby boy the following morning August 18th, in the tank of the woman’s bathroom toilet, after attempting to flush it repeatedly with no result — they lifted the tank’s top to find a hellish scene.

starters pub route 378 back door

When D.A. Morganelli was asked his thoughts on what Hein was thinking he answered — ” I have no idea what goes on in her head”– noticeably unnerved, he said ” I have no clue.”‘

starters pub heins

According to the Northampton County coroner, the newborn was at least 33 to 36 weeks gestational age — meaning he was fully viable, able to survive outside the womb . Court records also indicate that the baby was born alive and healthy.

survival rate

After learning the gruesome details — Amanda’s stepmother Louiseanne Hein clearly heartbroken and appalled told reporters that she had no idea Amanda was even pregnant. She said that looking back a planned parenthood letter addressed to Amanda now makes sense. Through teary eyes and honest transparent expression — grief-stricken Louiseanne exclaimed through sobbing sentences: “We told her she always had a home here” and that ” we would have worked something out!”

Via Amanda Hein's Facebook

Via Amanda Hein’s Facebook

Even neighbor Victor Rosario reinforced the theorized “Secret Pregnancy” by stating — “I didn’t even know she was pregnant, she didn’t look pregnant!”

On August 20th Amanda Hein was interviewed by authorities. She admitted giving birth to the baby boy in the bathroom, and disposing of him.  This gut wrenching confession, has earned Hein the rightful charge of Criminal Homicide. In Pennsylvania, “intentional murder of a child under the age of 12 is a Capital Offense — punishable by way of the death penalty. On Monday Hein was charged with one count of Criminal Homicide — thus the possibility of imposing the death penalty looms, if Hein is proven guilty.

Hein is being held without bail — as of last week no representation had been officially listed. The  authorities are still searching for the father of the baby.

Educate others safe haven

This incident has resurfaced the topic of SAFE HAVEN’S — as New Jersey and Pennsylvania both have “Anonymous drop off laws.” The Safe Haven laws, and places are now pushing harder to educate people about the State’s laws regarding Safe Haven’s.

safe haven sign

Established in 2002 after an infant girl they called “baby Mary” was discovered in a Sunbury Pennsylvania trash compactor.  EVERY hospital in P.A. are Safe Haven’s only needing to meet minimal criteria.

  • The child must be a non-injured, non-emergent newborn.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 28 days in Pennsylvania.
  • The newborn must be under the age of 30 days in New Jersey

If those criteria are met — the newborn will be accepted and taken in — NO QUESTIONS ASKED — and completely anonymous if the person dropping off the child so chooses.

safe haven incubator

With help in place like Safe Haven’s and a multitude of other resources — there is NO NEED for the senseless and horrifying deaths of any healthy newborn. Educate yourselves, and those around you — IT MAY SAVE A BABY’S LIFE.

Written By: Heather Cornell


AUTISM LETTER NOT CONSIDERED A HATE CRIME? But charges may be made against the author ???

max begley

As we posted Wednesday about the despicable letter that had circulated everywhere, and asked your opinions in the link below — we would like to follow-up, with the new developments we have uncovered — and become aware of since.

The anonymous, yet nonetheless reproachfully loathsome and detestably cowardice letter was received Friday by Brenda Millson, in Ontario Canada. Since then it has incited quite an outbreak — of both outrage and concern. At first it was the family and neighborhood that was infuriated and probing for answers. Then via media and social networking the vile and poison spewed paragraphs went viral. Reaching everywhere. Throughout Canada, the US, even around the globe.

The letter was in regards to a thirteen year old autistic boy, Max Begley from Oshawa Canada — about 50 miles from Toronto.

Arrogant and irate statements that describe Max as a “nuisance” and a “retard” are just some of the despairing and abusive names the author called this boy. The Author goes on to state things like ” That noise he makes when outside is DREADFUL!” then goes on to say “It’s (sic) scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!”  It talks of “donating his normal parts to science”– even encouraging the family to move their “wild animal kid” to a trailer in the woods and “do the right thing and euthanize him” — and — “Either way we’re all better off.”

Max Begley, diagnosed with autism at age two. Defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary —

Au-tism : a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns.

MEDICAL DEFINITION: A developmental disorder that appears by age three and that is variable in expression but is recognized and diagnosed by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns especially as exhibited by a preoccupation with repetitive activities of restricted focus rather than with flexible and imaginative ones.

Max’s grandmother Brenda Millson, who received the letter told reporters ” I was shaking reading it, it’s awful words. It’s terrible you don’t know why anyone would ever do such a thing.”

Max’s mother and father both suffer from MS ( ) also had a few things to say to the media — in hopes that it may also help draw out the culprit, if nothing else — let their voice and how it has affected them, BE HEARD.

Max’s mom who suffers from Secondary progressive MS was more than choked up, as she read excerpts of the letter to the media. Teary eyed and raspy throated she uttered quotes from the letter before explaining — that with her condition she is no longer able to run or even walk to keep pace with Max — his tendency to take off running at parks, and on outings — make it near impossible for her to bring him to these places alone. The father also having MS and working full time, means that Max is entertained and cared for by his grandmother 3 to 4 days a week. The back yard is his safe haven — it’s where he gets to be a kid and play outside, exercise — and learn.

maxes mom

His father James Begley told the media “A person that is that crazy and demented, to — you know fabricate something like that, leads me to believe — that they are very dangerous –and right now I’m scared for my sons safety.”

max and fam

Even with all the cruelty expressed in that letter Canadian authorities are still unsure on how charges can and will be brought up and filed — if they do actually find the audacious author. One would think it would be as simple as an open and shut hate-crime case — but that is actually not so feasible. “At the moment the authorities are contemplating criminal charges — “however: there are other code issues being considered.” Said police.

At present the actual letter is in the custody of Durham Authorities — who will now figure out exactly where this letter falls — under the multi-possible criminal charge categories. Many across Canada, America and beyond are labeling this a HATE-CRIME — and according to former Crown attorney David Butt — it mostly does, yet cannot be considered one.

“There is good reason why charges couldn’t be laid.” as a hate-crime says Butts.

Canada’s hate-crime legislation has three requirements — to which all three must apply to be considered and chargeable as a hate-crime. Although this vulgar letter meets 2 of the 3 requirements being:

  1. It has to be wilful promotion of hatred — “the letter is clearly that.”
  2. It has to be the promotion of hatred against an identifiable group — “the letter is also clearly that” Butts says. “Because Max the boy the letter is about has a disability — autism — which makes him part of identifiable group”

However the third is key, and the letter does not fall under this hate-crime guideline. The third requirement is that It MUST be done in a public forum — Since it went from writer to recipient it dismisses the letter as ineligible for a hate-crime label and/or charge.

As of today Max’s neighbors, community and all those his story has touched have bound together in an outpouring of love and support for the teen and his family — and are hoping to help find out the coward hiding behind the pusillanimous penmanship, and see justice served.  In the meantime Max find’s all this attention a wonderful thing, and is laughing and enjoying the good vibes and positivity surrounding him.

max and neighbors

Written by: Heather Cornell




The United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced this weekend that he is taking action to change the incarceration results of Federal prosecutions.

Specifically, he has memo’d all United Stated Attorneys to no longer specify the amount of drugs seized in criminal indictments, thereby avoiding mandatory sentencing laws that have led to a huge expansion, these past 30 years or so, in numbers of people incarcerated.

Holder’s action is a positive step indeed. Incarceration has for far too long ruled the justice system in our nation. As many have noted, America totals five percent of the world’s people but a full 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. This would be an intolerable condition, morally and otherwise, in any modern nation. How can it possibly be true of the country that we who live in it call “the land of the free” ?

Again, as many have noted, almost half of those incarcerated have committed non-violent, usually drug crimes. Others are elderly or have served the major portion of their sentences — terms handed to them by overly harsh, mandatory sentencing laws enacted thirty years ago and more. Trial judges used to have discretion in sentencing, as well they should, given that they see the entire trial process as it plays out before their eyes. Every case is different; discretion to the judge allowed him or her to include these differences into the record as it applied to sentencing. Mandatory sentence laws did both defendants and judges a great disservice, not to mention the harsh edge that it imposed on the entire system.

The 1980s were a time of obsession about crime brought about the advent, on the street, of “crack,” a smoked form of cocaine that drove its users to crazy acts. The same decade saw the rise of an hysteria that child-abuse was going on at day care centers. Many day care center people were prosecuted and hounded– lives ruined — as in the 1692 Salem witch trials (an d those of us who call Salem our native city know the horrors of that hysteria only too well.) As it turned out, every single one of these day care hysteria cases was overturned and the lives of those impacted restored to them as best could be. Incarcerations for non-violent offenses, however, have taken far longer to reform.

Holder supports his move by making it a cost issue. This is not mere eyewash. Incarceration costs states and the Federal government almost $ 100 billion a year. As almost two million of us are incarcerated, the dollar amount equals about $ 50,000 per prisoner — most of it being paid as wages to prison guards, wardens, medical people, and the maintenance of prison buildings and systems. Because there is huge money involved, the movement to reduce incarceration actually began, not with Holder’s recent move, but with conservative “red” states such as Texas. Obsessed by huge costs that must be paid for by taxes, these states have been first to remove non-violent offenders from the incarceration system wherever feasible. Little wonder, then, that the numbers of Americans incarcerated has fallen in each of the past three years — and the rate of decrease is accelerating.

Here and Sphere has no objection to using money issues as a reason to reduce incarceration. Nonetheless, we cannot avoid the moral and common sense concerns. In what way does incarceration of non-violent, mostly drug, offenders, supersede rehabilitation, community service, and detox centers ? Nor is it morally right that mandatory incarceration has fallen overwhelmingly on men of color. Almost one-third of all American men of color have been incarcerated at least once during their lives ! Indeed, more American men of color have experienced incarceration than were held in slavery at the timer of the Civil War. Men of color comprise five percent of the population but 40 percent of those in prison on death row.

Holder’s action will not alter the death row statistic; but his move will certainly and justifiably ease the disproportion that has put so many men of color on a path to long incarceration. For this, we applaud Holder’s action more loudly than because of its money saving.


^ Judge Shira Schendlin of Federal Court for the New York District

Note : today, as we write this editorial, the news has come of a New York Federal Judge’s finding that New York City’s notorious “stop and frisk” police practice is unconstitutional. Specifically, District Judge Shira Scheindlin found that “stop and frisk” policy has profiled people of color, violating their civil rights protected by both the 4th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. As Scheindlin said, “many police practices may be useful for fighting crime — preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example — but because they are unconstitutional, they cannot be used no matter how effective.”

One could add to the list of unconstitutional police practices the taser-ing of citizens, not to mention the shooting of unarmed suspects. Nonetheless, Scheindlin’s decision is most welcome and a timely companion to Attorney General Holder’s move. Perhaps the word ” justice ” will now begin to mean something just as well as something punitive.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere




       A task force made up of forty-seven FBI divisions, more than 3,900 law enforcement officers, from local, state, and federal, to agents representing 230 separate agencies teamed up with the (NCMEC) National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — as part of the Bureau’s ( Innocence Lost National Initiative).

       This three-day nationwide enforcement action targeted the people responsible for the trafficking , forced prostitution, abuse, and in some cases even torture of under-age victims.

       This united effort spanning 76 cities nation-wide concluded with an astounding 150 arrests of both pimps and other persons of interest — and most importantly  the rescue of 105 teenagers, being used as prostitutes — the youngest being only 13 years old. This has now been the largest and most successful  enforcement action to date.

        Human trafficking is not new news; however the actual numbers are heinous and appalling.

        There are at least 27 million slaves in the US today, more than any other time period in history — including  pre-abolition. Annually 800,000 people trafficked onto US territory via it’s borders. Of those 800,000 — 90% are women and young female children — with 70% of those woman and children being trafficked for the sole purpose of being forced into the ( commercial sex-slave industry ). If that stomach turning data wasn’t enough — how about the realization that according to the (NCMEC) — 50% of that 70% are children.

 One such victim was not only rescued in this past sting, but was also a key component to the success of it. With her help and cooperation, agents posing as johns, and websites used for the advertising of prostitution — this impressive three-day action served it’s purpose and then some.

“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America” said Ron Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. He also stated that ” this operation serves as a  reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen ANYWHERE — and that the FBI are committed to stopping this cycle of victimization, and holding the criminals that profit from this exploitation accountable.”

 Since it’s 2003 beginnings, The Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in, the identification and recovery of more than 2,700 children — who have been sexually exploited.

  Ron Hosko also explained that most runaways turn to prostitution for money… “With no way to survive on their own, they are trapped into a life of being trafficked — trapped into this cycle, that involves drugs, it involves physical abuse, and may even involve torture — so that they are tied to the pimp.”

       One such victim is Alexandria a.k.a. Alex, a runaway — who at first stayed with family and friends — eventually finding herself on the street and desperate. Alex then turned to prostitution as a way to supply her basic needs — just for survival. Soon she was at the mercy of a pimp. In an interview Alex bravely admits what her experience was like. She tells the interviewer that ” At first it was terrifying, and then…..You just become numb to it” — “You put on a whole different attitude” — like a different person. “It wasn’t me.”

Two years into her painful ordeal, Alex contacted the FBI, and became a very important asset in helping to bring down two pimps, while also helping to facilitate  the rescue of several under-age victims.

Even through all the bad, inconceivable, and life altering things she endured — Alex is now on her own and thriving — with a positive attitude and outlook on life, as well as her future. Since her rescue she has received her high school diploma, and plans on attending college. Her future goals include becoming an advocate for victims of sexual exploitation.

Watch her interview here:

“They had my past but not my future” – Alex

The sex industry is a multi-million dollar business — no matter what state the economy is in, struggling or not — SEX-STILL-SELLS…. But this is not a case of to each his own, The phrase “what happens behind closed doors, is none of OUR business.” — does NOT apply! What are your opinions on this topic? Here and Sphere would love to hear from you………

Written By: Heather Cornell / Here and Sphere

here and sphere photo me



^ the many years of James “Whitey” Bulger

—- —- —-

Watching the long parade of thugs, pugs, and lugs walking up to and planting themselves in the witness chair at Federal Court these past three weeks has put this writer into the paranormal. i lived and did political work in the city these fellows dented. Though my center of gravity lay several fenders to the southwest — in Roslindale, west Roxbury, and Hyde park — I had begun my roadwork in Dorchester — Upham’s Corner to be exact — and spent many hours, days, and weeks working Dorchester campaigns and activities. The South Boston these fellows destructo’d lay only a mile or two to the north, and at many many Dorchester events the vinegar of South Boston was often tasted. And occasionally I ventured into Southie itself.


^ Southie : corner of Broadway and Dorchester Street

We knew what that meant. We were not fools or naive. It was always there, the under-rumble of hard nose. Later, as William Bulger began his political rise, we could feel the Bulger shoulder, hear its footstep, see its shock wave. There were stories, too, about both brothers — each different yet both of one brick. Of those stories I am not sure that i should write even now, decades after; suffice it to say that one very powerful politician from “Southie” had his life crunched pretty good by the Bulgers, according to what we heard.

It started way back, in 1972, when a certain associate of Whitey Bulger’s brother Billy, one Joe Toomey, was a Democratic state Committeeman from the then still intact South Boston Senate District. Joseph Moakley, who was then the senator, had already announced that he was challenging Louise Day Hicks for the “South Boston Congress” seat — he went on to win it that Fall. Anyway, in the 1972 Presidential Primary — which is when State Committee people are elected — in march, an associate of my political sponsor — who has long since passed — decided to run against Toomey. He lived in “Southie,” of course, and had become best pals with my sponsor: they had served in the Legislature together.

As it turned out, my sponsor’s friend lost to Toomey by only a handful of votes. Never will I forget the faces we saw when we went to Toomey’s headquarters that night to congratulate hi,m. the faces were hard as longshore piers, the bodies stocky as cinder block walls. The air was so angry you could almost see it froth at the mouth. Hate was here, and we knew it, and very quickly left.


If only we had known the whole story ? HaHa, only I did not. My sponsor’s associate knew it well; but his ordeal was just beginning. Two years later, during the crisis and riots brought on by Federal Judge Arthur Garrity’s order that Boston schools be integrated — including the schools of “Southie” — my sponsor’s friend did hos best to calm the situation, to bring people together, to have conversations, not confrontation. The Bulgers were having none of it. Billy, now a State Senator, made the Globe and Herald his enemies; accused them of bias against “Southie”; opposed all efforts at compromise.

As for Whitey ? Nothing can be proved, but we all heard the stories : of how my sponsor’s Southie friend had been run off the road, how he had been forced to flee his South Boston home — he and his wife and kids — and live for a time in Quincy or somewhere. We heard these stories, and we believed them.

Later on both my friend’s friend and Whitey Bulger — and now Bill Bulger too — became much more powerful; more caustic still the brothers’ hate for the man i am thinking of. How palpable was this ? I will never forget one of Bill Bulger’s Saint Patrick’s Morning breakfasts, political as politics can politic — he started the affair, now a Southie must-be-at, for pols and soon-to-be pols, hosted by whoever is South Boston’s State Senator . So there I was, standing in the crowd of “repS’ and City Councillors, campaigners and election junkies, and they and I were watching Bill Bulger do his do on the front stage. Behind him stood a row of the respectful. Prominent among them stood my sponsor’s buddy. Bluntly Bulger ignored his presence on the podium. Passed him by, did Bulger; and he sort of grinned it off, as if to say, “what do you hot-shots out there expect ? This is how it is over here.”

Bill Bulger puts on a time, he run s the time. And so he proceeded to  recognize everyone else on the podium by name. But not the man we were all looking at.


^ State senator Bill Bulger : being paid respect to. at Breakfast.

It was said, when both Whitey the man snubbed by Billy were at the peak of their power, that Whitey warned him, after a particularly nasty exchange — with my sponsor’s friend now in a position to make daily life very difficult for Whitey and even more difficult for Whitey’s guys — that Whitey said to him, “I can’t kill you, but i can kill your friends.” And my sponsor’s friend’s close associates knew that Whitey meant it. It must have been hard for them. They enjoyed the strong protection of closeness to my sponsor’s friend, and still they had no protection at all — almost: for, after all, Whitey did not, despite the threat, kill any of them. But the man whose protection they should have enjoyed did just what Whitey had implied he should do. He went his way, paying no attention to Whitey, and not much to Billy, as he did his thing in Boston and for Boston — all of it, with honor and openness to all. As for Whitey — and for his Senate President brother Billy — they just kept on — amassing power : Billy collected political clout the ways some people collect stamps. As Senate President he controlled the State Budget, and he used that control to control, in part, the administration of the state’s courts. It was said that when Judge Ed Daher, then of the Boston Housing Court, objected to some job moves by Bill Bulger, he found the budget for his Court slashed. Was this so ? We sure thought it was.


^ crossing State senate President Bill Bulger was no joke. And he knew who you were, believe me.

With Whitey, we know what the 1980s brought him. we know it now, that is. The murders and betrayals, extortions and beatings, the guns in mouths, the informing and being informed on. We learned the names and traits of John Martorano — feared relentless killer’; Kevin weeks, tough and snarly; Steve Flemmi — kill or watch a killing; the Winter Hill Gang — not in Southie but in the “‘Ville,” oddly enough;  and John Connolly — the FBI man among men (ya right) and his colleagues at what should have been called the Muff-BI. We hear the names of the killed, the extorted, the beaten, the deceived, the betrayed — and the innocent who happened to be in the line of — ping ! — a bullet or three.

We see the families of the killed, their brains stuck on vengeance — and who can blame them ? They lived, feared, ,loathed, and bled it.

Once I left the Dorchester offices where my roadwork started, I avoided South Boston entirely.  I had friends there, yes, and cherished them. They know who they are.

Some owned taverns that were riotous good fun to have a “frosty” in. Some worked the Lithuanian Club — always a good time on a night. Some ran funeral homes; others played Park League hockey, or baseball for the South Boston Chippewas. So,me worked at the South Boston District Court House on Broadway — a fun place to be on South Boston Parade day in March. Some were gorgeous, spunky gals one met at “happy hours” on Cape Cod — Clawson’s on a Sunday night was a favorite lawn to hit on — or at “Dot So Cha” reunions — big social mixers — featuring folks from Southie, Dorchester, and Charlestown: the Irish heartland of Boston, often held at the Victory Road Armory in Fields Corner.


^ gals of Southie : jst as gorgeous spunky as in the 1970os-1980s

And some went on to political fortune : Ray Flynn, Jack Hart, Brian Wallace, Mike Flaherty, Steve Lynch — he by beating Bill Bulger’s son, no less, to win the State Rep seat left open when Jack Hart succeeded Bill Bulger as State Senator.


^ Kevin O’Neil of Triple O’s — today, after the groove has gone.

I never did meet Kevin Weeks, though I did know — unforgettably — his brother Jack. Nor did I ever meet Kevin O’Neil,. or Pat Nee, or Billy Shea, or any of the other biggies of Whitey’s close circle. But watching them now, greying and aging, as they testify to what they did, saw, heard, and planned back when, I know that I easily could have known all of the, stood at a bar with them drinking “a frosty” or two, worked campaigns with them — and felt a touch of fear at what they might well have been like in a less celebratory or energetic corner of life. Almost all of us who lived in Boston then knew these guys or guys much like them. We knew the city that they helped scratch, the way a vandal would key a brand new Mercedes, only meaner — and dirtier — yet also, as is a vandal, occasionally fun to be around. In a cynical groove in a then inward-angled city that fortunately no longer exists, for me or for them. Or for the rest of us.

It is over now.

— Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere