Coverage of Massachusetts from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

Mass. governor signs genocide education bill

Dec 3, 2021
Socially distanced classroom seating during a COVID-19 pandemic.
Akbarali / creative commons /

Students in Massachusetts middle and high schools will soon learn about the history of genocides around the globe as a required part of their curriculum.

Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican /

Updated: 10:40am, 12/3/21

A 39-year old man was shot to death in Northampton, Mass., Wednesday night. Police have identified him as Joseph Fillio of Pittsfield. The suspect in the shooting appeared in court Thursday afternoon. 

Rep. Neal high on Massachusetts east-west rail prospects

Dec 2, 2021
Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

A passenger rail link between Boston and western Massachusetts is "one of the most essential infrastructure investments we anticipate making" now that a federal infrastructure package has been signed into law, Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Richard Neal said Thursday.

Some of the same billionaires who pioneered the commercialization of space are now using their fortunes to fund companies to create the energy source of the stars on earth. And a new round of funding is sending MIT spin-off Commonwealth Fusion Systems into orbit.

The start-up company just closed on a $1.8 billion funding round making it the largest in Massachusetts history. Among the backers were billionaire Bill Gates, George Soros and venture capitalist John Doerr.

Northampton climate activist Marty Nathan.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette /

Marty Nathan, a western Massachusetts civil rights and environmental champion, died Monday at age 70.

Baker, Polito bow out of 2022 Massachusetts race for governor

Dec 1, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a two-term Republican who at his peak was one of the most popular governors in the country, will not seek a third term, throwing wide open the 2022 race for the state's top political office after close to two years of managing through a global pandemic.

With vaccine passports near, Mass. governor voices opposition to mandate

Nov 30, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in a file photo.
State House News Service

A day after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the state may "soon" deploy a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport similar to those in use in other states, his office stressed that the Republican remains opposed to requiring that businesses screen customers for proof of vaccination.

Phil Saviano in 2020.
Andrew Medichini / Associated Press

An outspoken victim of clergy sexual abuse — who supported and inspired other survivors in western Massachusetts and across the country — died of gall bladder cancer on Sunday.

A vaccine for COVID-19 being prepared.

The head of a western Massachusetts school district said the vast majority of eligible students will meet a Wednesday deadline to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker picutred in a file photo together taken at the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on September 21, 2016.
Office of Governor Baker / Creative Commons /

Two big western Massachusetts cases championed by Attorney General Maura Healey are falling apart.

Michael Bobbitt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council
Massachusetts Cultural Council


This episode is rebroadcast from October 4, 2021.

Reviving arts and cultural organizations in Massachusetts devastated by the economic impact of the pandemic has become largely the responsibility of a playwright and theater director, who has become the new Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Liquor stores say they have cleared a key hurdle to launching a ballot measure aimed at countering efforts by big chains to eliminate limits on the number of stores that can sell alcohol in Massachusetts.

It was four years ago Sunday, political aides to Gov. Charlie Baker confirmed what had been an open secret. The Swampscott Republican was indeed going to run for a second term. The news set the 2018 gubernatorial race into motion, which culminated with Baker cruising to re-election without really breaking a sweat. He’s currently mulling whether to go for a third term in 2022.

Baker gets a bit prickly whenever he’s asked the question that’s on a lot of people’s minds. Are you going for a third term?

When abundance means having less

Nov 29, 2021
Commentator Christopher Carlisle wonders whether he can do more than give lip service to this adage.
200MoreMontrealStencils / Creative Commons

In this time of harvest, I remember the weekend I came home from divinity school to the words of a fourth century monk on my parents’ refrigerator.

A sign outside South Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, with information about Pioneer Valley Project and Behavioral Health Network's pop-up vaccination clinic.
Nirvani Williams / NEPM

Vaccine hesitancy is still prevalent in Hispanic and Latinx communities in Springfield, with COVID-19 vaccination rates trailing well behind the statewide average.

Will Reichelt, the mayor of West Springfield, Massachusetts, and chair of the town's Cryptocurrency Exploratory Committee.
Douglas Hook / The Republican / Masslive

Officials in West Springfield, Massachusetts, will explore whether cryptocurrencies like bitcoin should become part of how the municipality conducts business.

Miniature portrait of Elizabeth Freeman, a watercolor on ivory by Susan Anne Livingston Ridley Sedgwick, 1811, in gilded wood frame. The painter was the wife of the son of Theodore Sedgwick, the lawyer who represented Elizabeth Freeman in her lawsuit.
Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society

A statue is planned for the Berkshires depicting an 18th century Black woman who was once enslaved and who sued for her freedom and won.

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home on May 1, 2020.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican /

The attorneys for the former Holyoke Soldiers' Home superintendent and medical director said they are pleased a judge has dismissed criminal neglect charges against their clients.

Cara Rintala arrives in Hampshire Superior Court for a bail hearing on November 23, 2021.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Cara Rintala, who was accused of killing her wife in 2010, is out on bail – two months after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated her 2016 conviction. She still faces a possible fourth trial.

Baker order aims to preserve hospital capacity in Massachusetts

Nov 23, 2021
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on January 21, 2021.
State House News Service

Updated at 4:52 p.m. 

As COVID-19 hospitalizations in Massachusetts climb and residents seek care that they might have put off over the last year and a half, the Baker administration will next week begin requiring hospitals to roll back non-essential and non-urgent scheduled procedures if the number of available beds at the facility is limited.

UMass Head Football Coach Don Brown with players at a game against the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, on December 8, 2006.
Thom Kendall / Courtesy UMass Athletics

UMass Amherst has hired a new head football coach. The move comes as the Minutemen head for another losing season.

Morning traffic on the Mass Pike.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

There's been another major setback for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's climate and energy plans.

The Massachusetts effort to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 has suffered a big setback. Last week, Gov. Baker took the state out of the Transportation Climate Initiative, a multi-state initiative to cut carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

Evan Horowitz, the executive director at the Center for State Policy Analysis, joined WBUR’s Weekend Edition to discuss what this means.

Stockbridge Town Meeting voted in June to give this 1780 document, and two others, to the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans. It is signed by tribal leaders.
courtesy Patrick White

Months after the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, voted to return historic documents to the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, town officials have mailed the paperwork to get the legal process started.

The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Mike Plaisance / The Republican / Masslive

Beacon Hill lawmakers heard testimony today on a pair of bills that would streamline the chain of command at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts. At least 76 veterans there died last year during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Mass. Gov. Baker pulls plug on regional transportation emissions compact

Nov 19, 2021
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in a file photo.
State House News Service

After years of touting a multi-state compact to reduce transportation sector carbon emissions as “critical” to achieving environmental goals in Massachusetts, the Baker administration on Thursday effectively scrapped its participation and declared the program “no longer the best solution.”

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority has extended its COVID-19 fare suspension policy through 2022.

The extension gives the WRTA time to decide whether to make the policy permanent or revert to fare collection.

Board chairperson Gary Rosen said the extension is “the right move,” but warned the city must consider the longer-term implications of the policy. Thus far, Worcester has offset the lost fare revenue with federal stimulus funds. The city stands to get more from the new infrastructure package, but Rosen warned a big financial challenge lies ahead.

A video shows an officer tossing a student down a hallway at Kiley Middle School in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2019.
Screen shot / The Republican /

A just-released surveillance video of a disturbing encounter between a school resource officer and a student inside a Springfield, Massachusetts, middle school in 2019 is raising new questions about the role of police schools.

The video was released to The Republican newspaper after a criminal case against officer Lawrence Pietrucci was adjudicated this month.