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A letter to Putin from NECIR journalist detained by Russian authorities

detained

Dear Mr. Putin, Was it really necessary to replay a scene from a tired, old cold war movie? I’m referring to Thursday morning when your government dispatched at least six of its immigration agents to disrupt an investigative reporting workshop that a colleague and I were conducting at a hotel in your hometown of St. Petersburg. Among our “subversive” topics: how to be fair and balanced, ethical and thorough, and how to use data to be more precise and accurate. Continue Reading →

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Mass. Legislature among states that pass the fewest bills

Massachusetts representatives met in this chamber as a full body for the equivalent of 69 8-hour days over the last three years. (Photo by Lauren Owens for NECIR)

Just 31 hours after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that state law did not specifically ban taking photos up women’s skirts, the House and Senate unanimously passed a bill outlawing the snapping of covert sexual photos.

That speedy passage stands in stark contrast to what happens to the overwhelming majority of proposed bills in the Bay State: they go nowhere. Continue Reading →

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Real estate developer reimburses buyers for homes never built

By Regine Sarah Capungan

A Foxborough real estate developer has repaid $525,000 to more than a dozen home buyers for advances he took for new homes he never built, according to the state Attorney General’s office. Michael Intoccia allegedly took up to $55,300 each from buyers to build a 29-home development called Bella Estates in Sharon even though construction was prohibited in the area. After his company did not build the homes by promised deadlines, Intoccia refused to reimburse the buyers, according to a press release by the Attorney General's office. Intoccia also agreed to an additional $100,000 judgment, with $30,000 paid to the Commonwealth and the rest suspended as long as he complies with the terms of the judgment. “This developer took thousands of dollars in advance payments from new homebuyers for houses he never delivered,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a press release. Continue Reading →

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Hadley shopping mall fined for dry cleaning chemical release

 

The owners of the Campus Plaza Shopping Center in Hadley have been fined $24,430 for failing to report, properly handle and identify the release of contaminated water to a nearby wetland, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Mass DEP staff discovered the problems during an audit of an ongoing cleanup project at the 36-acre site of a large release of tetrachloroethene, or PCE. The manmade chemical is often used in different types of cleaning products—for example, it can help clean clothing and degrease metal. The PCE was traced to a former dry cleaner at the center, located at 454 Russell Street. It’s unclear what the exact impacts are to the environment, although the center, which includes a grocery store and retail shops, has been deemed safe enough to allow the mall’s continued use. Continue Reading →

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