Daily Archives: November 17, 2010

Photo Of The Day: Neon Foliage

Published November 17, 2010

Fall foliage (Bimal Nepal/Flickr)

Fall foliage (Bimal Nepal/Flickr)

Photographer Bimal Nepal submitted this electric-pink photograph to the WBUR Flickr group.

Enjoy the foliage while it lasts… winter feels close.

Drug Charges Dropped In BC Case After Improper Search

Published November 17, 2010

Prosecutors must drop drug charges against two former Boston College students after the state’s high court ruled that the evidence was seized illegally.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Wednesday that the students had not clearly agreed to let campus police search their dorm room.

Universal Hub reports:

Campus police originally showed up at Daniel Carr and John Sherman’s dorm room in 2007 after a residence assistant reported they might have a weapon. The two allowed officers inside, but after they handed over what turned out to be a replica gun, a folding knife and a throwing star, a police sergeant said he wanted to search the room more thoroughly. The students signed a waiver of a reading of their Miranda rights, but didn’t sign another form consenting to the search. When police searched the room, anyway, they found what was later identified as enough cocaine and psilocybin to indict the two for drug trafficking.

Middlesex District Attorney Jerry Leone said prosecutors cannot go forward with their case against the men without the drugs as evidence.

The officers did not have a warrant, but Leone said prosecutors still believe the entry was allowed under the school’s policy for students who live on campus. The court did not rule on that issue.

UHub also has the complete ruling.

BRA Voids Permit For Filene’s Redevelopment

Published November 17, 2010

Three years ago, this was Filene's Basement. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Three years ago, this was Filene's Basement. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Consider it a final nail in the coffin for the long-stalled redevelopment of Filene’s Basement, which remains a gaping hole in Downtown Crossing.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has formally revoked approval for Vornado Realty Trust, three years after the company won permission — and then failed — to redevelop the site.

The agency said the delay has cost the city of Boston $20 million in new tax revenue and more than 3,000 jobs.

Vornado has said the project was stalled because of the unforeseeable collapse of the economy.

Jessica Shumaker, a BRA spokeswoman, says the recession stalled a lot of construction projects — but this one was “special.”

“There are certainly other projects that have had their approval for longer, but they didn’t create a hole on the site,” Shumaker told me.

This is the first time in recent memory that the city has yanked permission for a construction project. Vornado’s construction permits are effectively worthless, since permits require BRA approval.

In September, the Globe reported Vornado had put up the site for sale after a two-year construction delay.

“Filene’s Basement was operating and employing people on this site, and that’s not the case anymore,” Shumaker said.

You can read the BRA’s letter to Vornado on Scribd.

If You’re Happy And You Know It, Track It

Published November 17, 2010

“What is it that makes people happy?”

A little girl eating a peach and smiling (Bruce Tuten/Flickr)

Just how happy are you? (Bruce Tuten/Flickr)

Harvard psychologist Matt Killingsworth and his colleagues are turning to the crowd for answers. An iPhone Web app, Track Your Happiness, asks people to stop what they’re doing and rate their current happiness on a scale of 1 to 100.

I have been participating for a few days now. Every day, at a random time (during waking hours), I get a text message with a link to answer a few questions about my current activity. I am encouraged to respond as quickly as possible, as long as it’s safe — i.e., not while driving. After filing enough reports, I can view my overall “happiness report.”

Taken in aggregate, some of the results are not surprising. People are happiest in the midst of sex — an activity that requires focus. The New York Times reports:

When asked to rate their feelings on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being “very good,” the people having sex gave an average rating of 90. That was a good 15 points higher than the next-best activity, exercising, which was followed closely by conversation, listening to music, taking a walk, eating, praying and meditating, cooking, shopping, taking care of one’s children and reading. Near the bottom of the list were personal grooming, commuting and working.

The hypothesis is that a focused mind is a happy mind. A mind that wanders is unhappy.

Of course, the researchers warn that correlation is not causation. “For instance, if you were often unhappy when you are at home, it might simply be because you don’t get home until late at night when you’re tired, and you could be less happy because you are tired, not because being at home is unpleasant in any way,” reads the disclaimer.

Are you using the app? Are the results surprising you?

Tuition Benefits For Immigrants: What Do You Think?

Published November 17, 2010

There is surprisingly little debate in the blogosphere about Gov. Deval Patrick’s bold approach to immigration policy, which he detailed before a receptive crowd Tuesday at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

Gov. Deval Patrick (AP)

Gov. Deval Patrick (AP)

Patrick says he will seek in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants who attended high school in Massachusetts. (Think of it as our version of the DREAM Act.) And Patrick favors drivers’ licenses for people who are here illegally.

“I know that embracing newcomers is out of fashion these days,” Patrick said at the coalition’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon in Boston. “The concern over illegal immigration has become so shrill that all immigrants get swept up in that emotion. I want you to know that you are welcome here in this commonwealth. This is your commonwealth. This is your home.”

The governor downplayed immigration during his re-election campaign, as some commenters have noted. His speech yesterday reignites a tense debate on Beacon Hill, as Kyle Cheney and Michael Norton report for the State House News Service. State Republicans oppose the plan.

Patrick said he supports all 131 recommendations from a year-old administration report. (Kudos to MassLive.com for finding the link. They also have video of the speech and a good write-up.)

What do you think?

  • Do you support reduced college tuition — subsidized by taxpayers — for people who came here illegally but graduated high school?
  • Do you think people who are here illegally, many of them behind the wheel already, should have drivers’ licenses?

Jump into the comments and respond (and please remain respectful).

Wednesday Morning: O’Malley Wins, Four Loko Cuts Caffeine

Published November 17, 2010

What’s news on a rainy and windy Wednesday morning in Boston:

Gov. Patrick will seek in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. The idea has many critics. (AP)

Matt O’Malley is Boston’s newest city councilor. He is the 31-year-old hand-picked successor to John Tobin in the Sixth District. (Globe)

The maker of Four Loko will drop caffeine from the drinks. “We are taking this step after trying — unsuccessfully — to navigate a difficult and politically-charged regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels,” the company said in a statement. Massachusetts is moving to restrict caffeinated alcoholic drinks. (The New York Times)

The head of the Boston Federal Reserve is defending the Fed’s latest stimulus move. Quantitative easing is an exceptionally boring way of saying the central bank will print new money to stimulate the economy. (WBUR)

A Watertown man arrested in the failed Times Square bombing is charged with immigration fraud. Aftab Ali Khan allegedly gave $4,900 to Faisal Shahzad, of Connecticut, who was later convicted in the bombing attempt. (WBUR)

Cops want the public’s helping ID’ing a body in Milton. A mutilated young man was found on an affluent street on Monday. (Herald)