Saturday, November 30, 2013

Boston Globe Video Games

I'm sorry I never got into playing them, dear readers. I wasted my time buying and reading books.

"Video game industry a bright spot in Mass." by Hiawatha Bray  |  Globe Staff, September 17, 2012

Despite the sluggish US economy, the Massachusetts video game industry keeps growing, according to a survey by Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), a state-sponsored game development center at Becker College in Worcester....

At this point I dismiss the $elf-$erving report. 

Related: Local video game industry shrinks in 2012 

Hey, what's one more lie in a new$paper full of them?

Today, the fastest-growing segment of the industry builds much smaller games that run on smartphones or tablet computers and often sell for less than $5....

Loew said Massachusetts should offer tax incentives to video game companies to encourage start-ups and to encourage companies in other states to relocate.

We already went through all that with Schilling and the rest.

But such incentives could be a tough sell after the collapse in May of 38 Studios LLC, a video game company founded by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling that relocated to Providence after Rhode Island provided $75 million in loan guarantees. Rhode Island could end up losing over $100 million on the failed investment.

“That was the aberration, that was the outlier,” MassDiGI’s executive director, Timothy Loew, said of 38 Studios.

He said that instead of investing taxpayer money, Massachusetts should offer incentives that lower taxes on video game companies.

“I think you’ll see that the incentive programs around the world are having a positive benefit to the local economies,” Loew said. 

Game over, money-grubbing $hit.


"Apps shake up video game industry" by Michael B. Farrell  |  Globe Staff, November 02, 2012

The swift migration of gamers from costly consoles to smartphones and tablets, where games are often free or 99 cents, is causing a tectonic shift in the video game industry that has hit a burgeoning sector of the Massachusetts economy especially hard. Two Massachusetts game makers abruptly closed in October, sales of console-based games are plummeting, and game makers are struggling to resize games designed for large screens so they will perform as well on a smaller window....

All in a mere two months? Or is Loew ju$t a liar?

ImaginEngine, a maker of games for children and families with 30 employees in Framingham, closed due to what its parent company, Foundation 9 ­Entertainment of Irvine., Calif., called challenging market conditions.

Then, Zynga Inc., the San Francisco company that ­pioneered social gaming on ­Facebook with FarmVille, shut its Cambridge office and laid off 45 employees as part of a broad cost-cutting plan that included cutting staff in Austin, Texas, and offices overseas. It also phased out 13 games....

Despite the recent setbacks, the video game industry in Massachusetts is growing fast....

For another month anyway. 

Yup, growing while contracting. Only in a video game, 'eh?

In the best of times, game making is a high-risk and erratic business subject to popular whim and abrupt advances in technology.

Yeah, so let's load tax loot into it!

Spectacular failures, such as the collapse of Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios, are not uncommon, and even ­successful companies go through periodic down times.

In recent weeks, Harmonix ­Music Systems Inc., creator of Rock Band, and Turbine Inc., the area’s biggest game company and maker of the Dungeons & Dragons Online, have ­announced layoffs.

So that is at least three companies laying off people during the great AmeriKan recovery!

Some traditional console games, which offer players much richer and deeper experiences than a ­mobile app, continue to sell well, earning big game companies millions in revenues. When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, one of the most popular console games, first went on sale last November, it sold 6.5 million units in one day in North America and Britain, bringing in more than $400 million in sales.

Consumer spending on console game software could be as high as $25.5 billion this year, while sales of mobile games are expected to reach $9.7 billion, according to Gartner.

But even with big hits such as Modern Warfare, the console side of the business is starting to slump....

And sales of the consoles themselves — from Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp., and Nintendo — are down. While some of the decline can be ­attributed to upcoming releases of a new generation of consoles, mobile is playing a big part.

Aside from the proliferation of smartphones, which about half of all Americans own, many game companies are struggling to adjust to the new mobile business model. For years they have spent millions to develop games that sell for as much as $60. Now, they are competing against free downloads.

Same as new$papers.

Another challenge is how big game studios find inroads into the app marketplace with compelling games that compete with the likes of the wildly popular mobile app Angry Birds and make money.

The industry is moving so fast to adapt to the changing landscape that even the recently jobless are not idle for long.

As word of the layoffs at Zynga’s Cambridge office began circulating last week, competitors immediately wooed those ­employees with job postings on Twitter.

And some of the ­Imagin Engine employees laid off in mid-October will be relocated to other offices by the parent company, Foundation 9....



Founding Fathers featured in new video game

Assassin’s Creed III

Pentagon moves to silence SEALs about missions

‘‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter’’ 

They have been silenced.

State removes violent games from rest stops

What? Why?

"Violent video games put parental judgment to test; Newtown killings intensify misgivings" by Beth Teitell  |  Globe Staff, January 08, 2013

First-person shooter and gory ­video games have long been a fact of life, but many parents say their aversion to the games has intensified after the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., massacre, and a published report that shooter Adam Lanza spent his days in his mother’s darkened basement playing games like the violent blockbuster Call of Duty.

I always viewed those kinds of kids as weird little monsters. Not a problem when training little soldiers, of course. 

Btw, I'm tired of spitballing about that hoax, but the constant flogging by the agenda-pushing media should tell you something!

“I’ve seen parents almost cringing as they’re buying the [violent] games,” said Adem Sawyer, a former GameStop manager, now working at ­Replay’d, a used electronics store in Allston. “You can tell they don’t want to, but once it’s on the counter, they’ve crossed the threshold.”

From his perch, Sawyer ­observed what will be an all-too-familiar scenario to many parents, particularly those with preteen and teenage boys: ­intense lobbying by the child; parental weakening, signaled by a laying-down of rules — “If I see you acting out any of this violence, the game is going!” — followed by children vowing to behave.

“They say ‘yes, yes, yes,’ ­because they just want to get to that prize,” Sawyer said.

Why do conflicted parents give in? Or let children play the games at friends’ houses? Alas, those are questions more easily asked by those who have never faced down a determined tween or teen.

Michael Rich, director of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health, sees parents who are so eager to be friends with their children that they do not set limits.

“What I say to some parents is, it’s sort of like your kid asking you for a chainsaw,” he said. “Maybe your kid is a budding chain saw sculptor and really needs it and understands how to use it safely, but think it through.”

Rich believes parents should not wait for definitive evidence about a link between violent ­behavior and violent games.

“This is one of those situations where you can argue to the end of time [about whether violent games lead to violent behavior], as they did over ­tobacco and lung cancer,” he continued, “or you can take a step back and say: ‘What do I want my kid to learn? And what do I want him or her to ­become? How does everything I do contribute to that outcome?’ It’s not just about sucking up to kids, it’s about helping them ­become the kind of adults you want them to be.”

Just as the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School ratcheted up the discussion on gun control, the shootings have also spurred action on violent video games, in ways small and large.

In Newtown, after attending the funeral of a friend’s young brother, Max Goldstein, 12,­ announced he is giving up violent games and called on others to do the same with his “Played Out” campaign.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, has proposed a bill that would ­direct the National Academy of Sciences to study the effect of violent video games and content on children.

The Entertainment Software Association, a Washington, D.C.-based group that works on behalf of game makers, says video games do not cause violent behavior.

“Blaming video games for ­violence in the real world is no more productive than blaming the news media for bringing ­violent crimes into our homes night after night,” a statement on its website says. “Numerous authorities have examined the scientific record and found that it does not establish any causal link between media content and real-life violence.”

I'm not productive?

Some parents say that they do not worry the games will make children violent; they just hate that they enjoy them. Some almost beg their sons (and they are most often sons) to play Madden NFL 13 or other sports video games, which by comparison seem as benign as playing outdoors.

But the prevalence of the ­violent games makes them hard to avoid. Even if your child does not own “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto” or “Assassin’s Creed,” a friend, or a friend’s older sibling, probably will.

Scott Weiner, of Mansfield, said he buys some games with violent content because he knows his older son, who is 13, will be exposed to them anyway, and he wants to educate himself.

“You might as well deal with it, because it’s going to happen anyway,” Weiner said.

His line of thinking will be familiar to many parents. “The first time my son asked for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 I was like, ‘No way. It will never happen.’ Then you realize their friends are getting the games.”

Weiner, the chief technology officer of Blue Hill Partners, and the manager of a forum for parent-friendly apps, ­, plays the games first, then lets his son know which settings he can use. “This way we can have a conversation about it.”

Even as the games are a source of near-constant friction in some homes, they can also cause stress between families — even when children are just having a play date, said Sandie Angulo Chen, a senior reviewer for Common Sense Media .

“Parents of this generation have to deal with screen protocols,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a preschooler watching TV, or tweens and teens and “M” rated videos (which are for players 17 and older). There are a lot of considerations that parents have to deal with when they ­allow kids to go on sleepover or just to a kid’s house down the street.”

Elsa Oberg, a part-time math teacher from Framingham, said the tension she feels over “Call of Duty” has nothing to do with other parents, but rather herself. About a year ago, after her son’s intense lobbying efforts, she caved and bought him the game.

“I’m antigun,” Oberg said, “and I can’t stand the NRA. But then my own son is downstairs playing this extremely violent game.”

And yet, she tells herself, he’s an excellent student, an athlete, and a nice boy with clean-cut friends.

“The game depresses me,” she said, “but I guess I chalk [his enjoyment] up to him ­being a 15-year-old boy.”

Let's hope he doesn't freak out someday and start shooting up the school.


Time to watch a movie:

"PG-13 violence a bow to video games, box office" by Ty Burr |  Globe Staff, November 22, 2013

A PG-13 rating no longer means what you think it means....

The ensuing uproar has been as loud and as moralistic as you’d expect, and the response from the Motion Picture Association of America has been as tone-deaf....

Let’s take a step back. The Annenberg report, as depressing as it is, may be more telling as a time-lapse study of an entertainment culture in the midst of profound change, a medium in decline, and a film industry running out of ideas. A careful parsing of the data makes a filmgoer and a parent mourn not what’s in the movies of the moment but what has been increasingly left out over the past three decades: humor, characters, surprise, and any genres beyond fantasy-action.

The study also makes you realize how deeply 25 years of video games have re-engineered expectations of narrative into a series of physical confrontations to be overcome by whatever force is necessary and/or imaginable. Fantasy-action movies, with their simplistic heroes-vs.-villains storylines and literal comic-book violence, are that much more familiar to a generation with twitchy thumbs.

I guess that's why I never go to the movies anymore.

As a research project, the study is solid work....

The study found that screen violence has more than doubled overall since 1950....

The researchers saw a clear and steady increase in the amount of violence in general, and gun violence specifically, over three decades of PG-13 films....

Simply put, PG-13 is where Hollywood now makes most of its money: All those sequels, remakes, action-fantasy franchises, and apocalyptic adventures are carefully written and edited to keep them out of both PG and R categories, since either would represent the loss of potential audiences and profits....

It’s only when you look at the kind of films being rated PG-13 over the last 30 years that you realize how much has changed and how dramatically. The rating was initially created in 1984 as a mid-point between PG and R after Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” freaked out tykes, parents, and editorialists with a scene of a heart being ripped out of a character’s chest. The following year, four films in the study’s sample received the new rating: “Cocoon,” “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” “White Nights,” and “Desperately Seeking Susan.” Only the second has the kind of action-fantasy violence that is now the norm for the category.

And so it goes for the next decade or so.

By the early 2000s, though, the franchise machinery was in full swing, abetted by a revolution in computer-generated special effects. The “Mummy” series was followed by “Lord of the Rings,” “Spider-Man,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and on and on in geometrical progression....

So, yes, all movies are more violent now, because of the video game paradigm, because spectacle sells better to overseas audiences, because the mainstream film industry is more concerned with servicing its invested properties than telling a good story.

The ratings board’s place in all this is decisive and helpful, but only for the movie studios that pay the bills. A straight-up trade organization, the MPAA exists to rubber-stamp major blockbusters, throw up roadblocks for anyone who tries anything different, and keep outside censors off the industry’s back. As a reflection of America’s enduring double standards — sex bad, violence good, the F-word OK but only twice a movie — it’s surprisingly accurate. As an enforceable policy, it’s a sham.

But lip service still has to be paid to “protecting the children,” even if the standards that supposedly protect them have warped beyond recognition. One aspect I wish the Annenberg study had delved into but didn’t — and, admittedly, it’s difficult to quantify — is the difference between gunplay in an R-rated movie and a film rated PG-13. I’m guessing that the latter features “softer,” less realistic gun violence: less blood, characters who drop dead without any muss or fuss, scenes that make guns an extension of play. Movies in which no one — or no one important — really gets hurt. Which, of course, may strike some of us as more offensive than a scene that shows what actually happens when a bullet tears up a human being’s insides.

Or blows up a head.

The big question remains whether gun violence in movies begets gun violence in reality. You don’t have to drag in the mass shootings of recent years (well, you can if you want to) to intuitively recognize that the options of response depicted in the media affects the options they consider available in life.

Hey, the heros do it to the bad guys in the movies.

Plenty of earlier studies have shown a correlation between onscreen aggression and youthful behavior off screen. The more dispiriting aspect of our current PG-13 battlefield is that it celebrates violent confrontation as the only drama available — the most marketable, and thus inevitable, aspect of our corporate franchise fairytales....

I'm reading one now.


How all you ladies liking the games?

"Women remain outsiders in video game industry; Female characters are hypersexualized and workers discomforted in an industry known for its frat boy culture" by Leah Burrows  |  Globe Correspondent, January 27, 2013

Marleigh Norton was attending a technical lecture on software architecture in video games last year when the presenter, an established game designer in his late 30s, clicked on a PowerPoint slide innocuously entitled “Dialogue Trees in CRPGs.” She found herself staring at a close-up of a voluptuous female buttocks.


For Norton, cofounder of and game developer at the Cambridge-based Green Door Labs, the slide and snickers that rippled through the predominantly male audience were reminders of the “boys locker room” mentality that permeates much of the video game business.

“If you are a woman in the industry, there are all these little signals that you are not part of the club, that this is not your tribe,” said Norton, 35. “After time, it wears you down.”

The billion-dollar video game industry is growing quickly with the explosion of mobile gaming, but women remain outsiders. Female game characters are hypersexualized, and female workers are frequently subjected to unequal treatment, harassment, and hostile atmospheres. At last year’s industry convention in San Francisco, for example, one company hired topless models for a professional networking event. Others sponsored parties with S&M themes.

It's called employing women. WTF is with the bitching?

The effects of this frat boy culture are captured in glaring industry statistics: Women account for only 11 percent of game designers and 3 percent of programmers, strikingly low even when compared with the broader fields of graphic design and technology, where women make up about 60 percent and 25 percent of employment respectively, according to surveys.

The girls aren't being tortured or raped, are they?

Also, women video game programmers earn an average of $10,000 a year less than their male counterparts, according to a salary survey published in 2011 by Gamer Developer magazine, and women designers make $12,000 less.

In Massachusetts, where video game employment has jumped nearly 80 percent since 2009 to more than 2,000, there are no statistics available on the number of women working at local companies, according to industry groups. But Tim Loew, executive director of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, or MassDIGI, said there aren’t many.

“What you can pick up from women who work in the industry is that it’s not a fair place for them,” Loew said. “We have to do better because there is opportunity here for both genders.”

These issues attracted national attention in November when women spoke out in an industrywide Twitter conversation about feeling overlooked, unsafe, and unwelcome. Tens of thousands of gamers and developers — women and men — participated in the discussion, sparked by a question from an employee at the crowd-sourcing company Kickstarter: Why aren’t there more female game developers?

“Because conventions, where designers are celebrated, are unsafe places for me,” wrote Filamena Young, a game designer and co-owner of Machine Age Productions in Orange County, Calif. “Really. I’ve been groped.”

“Because I got blank stares when I asked why a female soldier in a game I worked on looked like a porn star,” responded Caryn Vaino, a user interface designer in Seattle.

I gotta start playing these games!

Amy Kaufman, 24, became the first woman to work on the 10-person staff at Nuukster, a Cambridge firm developing games for Facebook. She said in an interview that she was never harassed or made to feel uncomfortable, and was generally treated as an equal — notwithstanding a few “honeys” and “dears.”

But she bristled at a game the company was developing for middle-aged women, the largest demographic playing games on Facebook. It involved a mother bird building a nest, courting a mate, laying an egg, and raising the baby....

At least it is creative and nurturing as opposed to violent and destructive.

The small pool of women candidates has been a problem for other technology sectors, which in turn has spurred efforts by industry, higher education, and even the Girl Scouts to encourage girls and women to enter so-called STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math.

See: Sunday Globe Special: Girl Scout Cookie 

I would clear them before continuing to play.

Some chief executives at video game companies acknowledge they need more women in the industry, since nearly half the customers are female, and women over 18 are the fastest growing demographic....


Such attitudes are beginning to change the atmosphere at video game companies, both men and women said. The overall percentage of women employed by video game companies has increased to 20 percent from 12 percent in 2005, but nearly all that growth has come in nontechnical fields such as public relations.

Jen MacLean, former chief executive of 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s bankrupt video game company, said she expects the environment to improve further as the business grows up, maturing from garage start-ups to larger companies with professional managers who understand the value of diversity.

“Now, there is a recognition that women exist as consumers,” she said.

Today, there are local and national organizations promoting women in the industry. Mentoring programs connect young female developers with seasoned pros.

Most major gaming conferences have sexual harassment policies, and many conferences have started to eliminate “booth babes,” the scantily clad women used as promotional tools. Games themselves have started to include more female characters.

Why take a weapon away when it is what everyone else does?

Still, many video business insiders say there is a long way to go. “It’s true, the industry is not as actively bad as it used to be,” said Courtney Stanton, a game designer and founder of the networking group Women in Games Boston. “But not actively bad is an embarrassingly low bar.”

Speaking of low bars....

Anna Cail, 33, an avid gamer studying game design at Becker College in Worcester, said she sometime feels she is entering an industry “openly hostile towards” women.

As a gamer, Cail said, she has seen female players harassed, hit on, and asked to show their breasts via webcams. As a student, Cail said, she has had a few encounters with other students skeptical of her technical abilities because she is a woman.

So why get into the business?

“I was raised that when I see something wrong, I shouldn’t put my head down,” Cail said. “In games you don’t run and hide. You stand and fight. I can fight this fight.”

Game over.


What did you do last summer, kiddo?

"Students train to become video game designers" by Hiawatha Bray  |  Globe Staff, July 30, 2012

They were among 18 students, mostly from Massachusetts colleges, participating in a state-sponsored summer program aimed at developing the next generation of video game designers.

I guess all that worried about violence stuff is not serious.

“This summer, we have learned essentially how to be game developers,” said Ali Swei, one of Gengler’s colleagues on the Nanoswarm team, guiding a cloud of black particles down a white corridor, evading machine gun bullets....


"PAX East packs gamers in on first day of show" by Daniel B. Kline  |  Globe Staff, March 23, 2013

This weekend Boston is the center of the video gaming universe, as some 70,000 enthusiasts — some dressed in the costumes of their favorite characters — pack the annual PAX East show.

At Friday’s opening, the line to get into the Boston Convention and Expo Center stretched down Summer Street; once inside, fans were stacked wall-to-wall, with everything from simple game demos to celebrity panels drawing overflow crowds.

For many it’s a dress-up event: Outfits included gore-covered zombies, vixen-like fairies, and warriors sporting a futuristic-medieval hybrid look.


Star Wars costumes were also big, as were versions of the popular disc-jockey Deadmau5, whose music is featured in many video games, and who appears as an avatar in one. There were even concerts, with one of the headline acts the self-described “Nerdcore” rap pioneer MC Frontalot.

Though the big national game companies claimed the biggest real estate, the Boston event draws many of the smaller start-ups and independent game creators in the Boston area. And with its huge audience of videogame devotees, PAX East is also a proving ground where newcomers can make a name for themselves....


Also see:

Bear Schylling in the Boston Globe

Game developer to launch incubator

PlayStation 4 sales strong despite reports of defects

What do you mean my console is a pos!?!? 

Maybe you should play fantasy $ports instead.

Globe Business Suit Doesn't Fit

"Men’s Wearhouse now in pursuit of Jos. A. Bank; In two clothiers’ merger fight, the script is flipped" by Michelle Chapman |  Associated Press, November 27, 2013

NEW YORK — Never say never. Just when it looked like a potential combination of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank was dead in the water, the script has been flipped.

Now it’s Men’s Wearhouse that is the suitor, offering about $1.54 billion for its rival. Less than two weeks ago, Jos. A. Bank dropped a $2.3 billion bid for its competitor.

A combination could create a menswear powerhouse of more than 1,700 outlets.

The announcement that Men’s Wearhouse was interested in a possible deal came as a bit of a surprise on Tuesday....

Men’s Wearhouse faced pressure from its biggest shareholder, Eminence Capital LLC. On Wednesday Eminence urged Men’s Wearhouse to talk with Jos. A. Bank. The hedge fund argued that a combination of the two businesses would create value and increase the growth potential of Men’s Wearhouse. Eminence owns 9.8 percent of Men’s Wearhouse’s stock.

Men’s Wearhouse Inc. appears to have now come around to Eminence’s view....

The decision by Men’s Wearhouse to go from an acquisition target to the bidder is known in the investment world as the Pac-Man defense. The phrase comes from the video game, in which Pac-Man was able to go from being hunted by ghosts to turning around and gobbling them up once he swallowed a power pellet....

I've had it with the video games, thanks.


Also tryThis Post Will Make You Look Good 

I don't like it.

Qatar Keeps American Couple In Country

"Qatari court orders temporary release of American couple" by Shabina S. Khatri and Alan Cowell |  New York Times, November 07, 2013

DOHA, Qatar — A court in the wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom of Qatar ordered the temporary release of Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple accused of starving their 8-year-old daughter to death, a family member said after the hearing on Wednesday.

The presiding judge, Abdullah al-Emady, ordered the Huangs to not leave Qatar before a hearing on Dec. 3. In deciding to free them from detention, the judge reversed his earlier rulings that they should be kept in custody throughout their trial, said Daniel Chin, the brother of Grace Huang.

“After the Qatar court heard Matt and Grace’s side of the story for the first time, the presiding judge ordered Matt and Grace to be released on bail, with a travel ban preventing them from returning home to the United States,” Chin said.

“Though we see this as a positive step, their trial is not over and we will continue to work within the Qatari legal system to demonstrate their innocence,” the statement said.

The Huangs arrived in Qatar in July 2012 accompanied by three children adopted from families in Africa, two boys and a girl. Their daughter, Gloria, died last January, after not eating for several days, and the Huangs were charged with child trafficking, accused of starving Gloria to sell her organs or “conduct medical experiments on them.”

Good Lord, another organ-harvesting outfit!


Related: Slow Saturday Special: Saudi Princess Gets Slavery Charge Dismissed

9/11 Hijacker Heads Home

You know seven of them were still alive the day after.

"Hijacker returns to US after 29 years in Cuba" by Curt Anderson |  Associated Press, November 07, 2013

MIAMI — An American who hijacked an airliner to Cuba nearly 30 years ago as a self-described revolutionary flew back home Wednesday to face US justice.

FBI agents took William Potts, 56, into custody shortly after his charter flight from Havana landed at Miami International Airport, said FBI spokesman Mike Leverock. Potts faces a 1985 federal indictment charging him with air piracy for hijacking a Piedmont Airlines flight in 1984.

In interviews prior to leaving Cuba, Potts said he was seeking ‘‘closure’’ and hoped to persuade US prosecutors to give him credit for the 13-plus years he spent in a Cuban prison for hijacking the flight. The US charge carries a sentence of between 20 years and life in prison, according to federal prosecutors.


‘‘My position is I am a free man. I have served my time,’’ Potts said. ‘‘But they seem to have another concept. They are going to take control of me. I will be under their authority.’’

Potts was taken initially from the airport to the FBI’s Miami field office and later will be transferred to a downtown detention center. Potts is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court Thursday, where the first order of business will be getting him a lawyer.

US authorities have aggressively prosecuted some returning fugitives, while others saw their sentences reduced significantly for time served elsewhere. Typically, a criminal defendant who pleads guilty and accepts responsibility qualifies for a more lenient sentence.

In the 1960s and 1970s, dozens of American aircraft were hijacked to communist Cuba at the height of the Cold War. But by the time Potts commandeered his plane, they had become less frequent and Cuba had begun prosecuting the hijackers.


Potts said he thought Cuba would welcome him and offer training as a guerrilla. Instead, he was convicted of air piracy. He was later given permanent residency in Cuba and has been living recently in a modest apartment east of Havana.

In 2009, Potts called himself the ‘‘homesick hijacker’’ in an Associated Press article about his desire to one day return to the United States.

Even though Potts could have stayed in Cuba, he decided to take his chances with the legal system. The pending US case against him keeps him from living his life fully, he said.

‘‘It’s time it had closure. Why leave it hanging, why leave this gaping uncertainty?’’ he said. ‘‘So I want to resolve that because . . . having completed my sentence, I feel like I want to put all that stuff behind me. . . . Once you’ve paid your debt to society you’re entitled to a fresh start.’’

Not in AmeriKa, not anymore.


"Hijacker who returned to US denied bail in Fla." by Curt Anderson |  AP Legal Affairs Writer, November 20, 2013

MIAMI — An American who returned from Cuba to face US charges that he hijacked an airliner to Havana decades ago was denied release on bail Tuesday, in part because of an outstanding arrest warrant claiming he committed a New Jersey armed robbery.

Assistant US Attorney Maria Medetis said at a bail hearing that William Potts faces still-active charges that he robbed a gas station attendant at knifepoint in Bergen County, N.J., on March 26, 1984. That is the day before Potts boarded a New York-to-Miami flight and hijacked it to Havana by claiming in a note that he was a black militant called ‘‘Lt. Spartacus’’ who had bombs on board, according to the FBI.

Medetis told US Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman that Potts would be arrested by New Jersey authorities if released on bail in the hijacking case. She also contended that Potts, a fugitive for nearly 30 years, could easily flee prosecution and is a danger to the community, based on the robbery charge and the hijacking itself.

‘‘He has on a number of occasions admitted to the offense,’’ Medetis said. ‘‘He described what he did as an act of terrorism.’’

Potts’s attorney, Paul Korchin, noted that Potts voluntarily returned to the United States to resolve the charges and that his mother and several siblings living in the Atlanta area would cosign for any bail amount.

That was probably a bad move. 

Related: Old Jersey

His two daughters, Korchin said, were permitted to come from Cuba to the United States in December 2012 and now live with Potts’s mother.

‘‘He has arrived at the place he wants to be,’’ Korchin said.

Goodman, however, sided with the prosecutor against bail, noting that under air piracy laws there is a presumption for a defendant to be kept jailed before trial except under unusual circumstances.

Goodman also noted that Potts faces a sentence of 20 years to life, a prime incentive to flee the country.


Any word on the Cuban Five?

BAE Pulls Out of Portsmouth

"Iconic shipyard in England to fall silent" by Danica Kirka |  Associated Press, November 07, 2013

LONDON — For five centuries, since the time of the Tudors, the shipyard in Portsmouth, England, built warships that helped Britain rule the waves and create an empire. On Wednesday, the yard’s workers learned the site will be shut.

BAE Systems, Britain’s largest military ship builder, announced a restructuring plan that will cut 1,775 jobs....

The decision was all the more charged because Scotland, where all of Britain’s military shipbuilding will be concentrated, will vote next year on whether to become independent.

See: Scottish Surprise

Portsmouth took the news hard. The move was a psychological blow to the seaside community, which has long plied its fortunes beside the navy and alongside the water. Hundreds of high-paying, skilled jobs are not simple to replace, particularly in a time of economic troubles.

‘‘We’re an island nation,’’ said Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a local government leader in Portsmouth. ‘‘We depend on sea trade for the food we eat, for the fuel in our cars. If we don’t have a navy to make sure the sea lanes stay open, the country’s economy will collapse.’’

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, who broke the news of the cuts to Parliament, said there was no getting around the fact that times had changed.

Shipbuilding is an increasingly competitive market, particularly in the military sector, where governments are cutting down on procurement costs.

It is simply a fantasy to think that Britain’s ship builders could experience a renaissance, he said.

The decision to close the Portsmouth yard also reflects the country’s fading connection to the sea. The rise of container ships concentrated in a few large ports has decreased the visibility of commerce by sea.

Robert Blyth, a senior curator at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, called it sea blindness.

‘‘We’re a very urban population,’’ he said. “The major ports have moved away from the major cities. The mass movement of goods that still goes on through shipping is somewhat invisible.’’

Even so, unlike factories or call centers or other major employers, shipyard cuts are talked about for a generation, said Guy Anderson, an analyst for Jane’s Defence Industry.

He said the shipyards’ troubles stemmed from their inability to deal with the fitful nature of the market.

Orders for warships provide plenty of work, but only in bursts, followed by long stretches of inactivity for the yards....


Scottish Surprise

"Scotland pushes for independence from UK; Prospectus for new state retains bonds to Britain" by Alan Cowell |  New York Times, November 27, 2013

LONDON — Raising the stakes in its struggle for independence in advance of a referendum next year, the Scottish government Tuesday unveiled a voluminous prospectus for a new state with its own embassies and identity, but retaining significant bonds to Britain including a common currency, the pound, and allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

The new nation would strike out on its own in defense and its relationship with Europe, expelling British nuclear submarines from their current Scottish bases and seeking separate membership in NATO and the 28-nation European Union.”

Why would you want to join that economy-killing organization??

Related: Sunday Globe Special: Europe Splitting Apart

The 670-page document's publication, 10 months before a referendum Sept. 18, seemed designed to encourage greater support among Scotland’s 5 million people, many of whom, according to opinion surveys, are undecided or opposed to independence....

The latest survey in The Sunday Times of London said 47 percent of Scottish voters are opposed to leaving the United Kingdom, 38 percent are in favor, and 15 percent were undecided. “If we vote no, Scotland stands still,” the document said. “A once-in-a-generation opportunity to follow a different path, and choose a new and better direction for our nation, is lost. Decisions about Scotland would remain in the hands of others.”

But approval would mean that “the most important decisions about our economy and society will be taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is by the people of Scotland.”


Scottish leaders have already said they want independence to come on March 24, 2016 — a historic date commemorating key steps in the fusion of England and Scotland centuries ago.

The drive for independence has been led by Alex Salmond, the head of the Scottish National Party that dominates the Scottish authority, which has its own government and Parliament under longstanding constitutional measures to grant limited powers to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland....



"REARING THEIR HEADS -- Artist Andy Scott led a Clydesdale during a ceremony marking the completion of his sculpture, the Kelpies, in Falkirk, Scotland. At nearly 100 feet tall, the project is the world's largest pair of equine sculptures (Boston Globe November 28 2013)."

"Helicopter crashes into Scottish pub" Associated Press, November 30, 2013

LONDON — A helicopter late Friday night slammed into the roof of a crowded Glasgow pub, causing numerous casualties and trapping people in the unstable building, officials said early Saturday.

Authorities said they had made contact with people still inside The Clutha pub in the city center. They said some people had been taken to hospitals but it was too soon to give a number of injured. Witnesses spoke of people streaming out of the building covered in blood, with gashes and other injuries.

‘‘Given an incident of this scale we must all prepare ourselves for the likelihood of fatalities,’’ Scotland’s leader, Alex Salmond, said on his official Twitter account.

Television images showed what appeared to be the helicopter’s propeller sticking out of the popular one-story pub’s roof.

The crash, which took place Friday at around 10:30 p.m. local time, sent dozens of patrons fleeing through a cloud of dust.

It was unclear how many people were still inside, officials said.

A crew of three — two police officers and a civilian pilot — were aboard the Eurocopter EC135 T2, according to Scottish police. Their fate was unknown.


Related: Terrorists in Helicopter Attack London Tower 

Another type of terrorist:

"Scottish cardinal halted abuse inquiry" by Sylvia Hui |  Associated Press, August 24, 2013

LONDON — A Scottish cardinal blocked an inquiry into cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic church of Scotland a year before resigning because of his own sexual misconduct, the church said Friday.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in February after unidentified priests said he acted inappropriately toward them, objected to a church review of abuse allegations commissioned in 2011, retired archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti said in a letter to Friday’s edition of the Catholic newspaper the Tablet....

The Scottish Catholic Church confirmed O’Brien withdrew from the inquiry in 2012, a year after it began. The church said the inquiry aimed to examine data relating to abuse in the Scottish church from 1952 to 2012. But ‘‘without the participation of all the dioceses, a ‘national audit’ was not possible, so the analysis was stopped,’’ the church said.

O’Brien, once Britain’s top Catholic leader, stepped down amid misconduct allegations.


Roof Falls in on Latvian Government

See: Saturday Globe Special: Russian Sphere

"Latvian leader quits after 54 die" by GARY PEACH |  Associated Press, November 28, 2013

RIGA, Latvia — Latvia’s prime minister unexpectedly resigned on Wednesday, saying he can no longer lead the country after a supermarket roof collapse killed 54 people and sparked public outrage.

Choking back tears, Valdis Dombrovskis said the country needed a change in leadership and “a government that has majority support in Parliament and can solve the situation that has arisen.’’

Latvia’s longest-serving prime minister, he has been credited with steering the Baltic country away from the brink of economic disaster since taking power in 2009.

But critics have suggested the abolition of a state construction authority by his budget-slashing government weakened oversight that might have caught building flaws in the supermarket.

In recent weeks he has also run into difficulties with his ruling coalition, with several nationalist lawmakers demanding changes in how the country issues residence permits in exchange for support for next year’s budget. Though Dombrovskis survived the standoff, he apparently felt the tragedy at the supermarket last week left his leadership too damaged to continue.

The announcement triggers the fall of the entire center-right government. But it is not expected to cause a political crisis or disrupt the country’s economy, which over the past two years was the fastest growing in the European Union.

Analysts say that in all likelihood Dombrovskis’s party, Unity, will be part of the next coalition that will control the government until parliamentary elections next October.

Police have opened a criminal investigation into the cause of the tragedy.


Globe Says Get on the Bus

I think I'll drive the car instead.

"Revived bus industry luring Thanksgiving travelers" by Jason Keyser |  Associated Press, November 27, 2013

CHICAGO — As millions of Americans hurtle through the jumble of transportation arteries for Thanksgiving, many are discovering that bus travel may be the cheapest, comfiest, and even coolest way to stay Zen during the nation’s largest annual migration.

After nearly half a century of decline in the bus industry, a new breed of sleek, Wi-Fi-pumping intercity coach is transforming the image of buses as the much-ridiculed travel option of last resort. With free Internet connections, tickets as cheap as $1, and decent legroom, companies such as and BoltBus are luring holiday travelers disenchanted with the hair-pulling rituals of airports and driving.

Let's hope they take care of their vehicles and don't put profits ahead of people.

‘‘I’ve been doing it for a couple of years and it is a nice ride,’’ said theater student Natalie Sienicki, 22, sitting inside a blue double-decker Megabus idling on a street corner near the grand colonnades of Chicago’s Union Station.

Her journey on Monday was not only cheaper than flying, at $56 roundtrip, but also took her all the way to her destination in Ann Arbor, Mich. If she had traveled by air, Sienicki would have had to make a side trip through Detroit.

Related: This Post Just Popped Up

The new bus services are capitalizing on generational and technological shifts: Younger urbanites are espousing a car-free lifestyle, and gadget-wielding travelers of all ages increasingly expect to buy tickets online and stay connected for the duration of their trip.

Because they can't afford one with the albatross of student debt around their necks.

‘‘Young people have no great psychological connection with the car,’’ said transportation trends researcher Joseph Schwieterman of DePaul University in Chicago. ‘‘They just want to get from point A to point B, and being able to use their electronic device on the way is a bonus.’’

Honestly, I'm tired of the drop in standard of living being dressed up with perfume and lipstick and being sold to kids as some sort of great thing. Maybe the kids don't realize it, but those who have been around see the agenda at work. 

Next time they ask for a ride tell them no.


The companies are able to offer such cheap seats because their online-only booking systems save them from having to staff ticket offices. Operating from curbsides rather than bus terminals also keeps costs low. 

So someone is out a job, huh?

It also helps that the typical 18- to 35-year-old passenger barely remembers the bad old days of bus travel. That image problem endures for older travelers who braved interminable bus trips that launched from seedy downtowns.

‘‘I had visions of ‘Midnight Cowboy,’ but this is nice,’’ 31-year-old Andy Dale joked, referring to the movie in which Dustin Hoffman’s character dies of an illness on a bus journey. But his Michigan-bound Megabus was a lot more comfortable than he’d imagined, Dale said.

Your more likely to be murdered or crash in the bus.

The bus rebirth began around 2006, when, which started in Britain, entered the US market in Chicago. It now operates in 120 cities in North America and hit 30 million customers in September.

Buses are the fastest growing form of intercity travel in the United States, according to a study released this year by DePaul’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

The traditional Greyhound service also has rebounded somewhat after decades of cuts. It spun off the BoltBus brand in 2008 to get into the discount game.

BoltBus general manager David Hall says he has been blown away by its success. ‘‘It’s a bit overwhelming, quite frankly,’’ Hall said. ‘‘. . . You get people who haven’t ridden the bus in years, and yet they’re coming down to give us a try because they’ve heard it’s cool.’’

Sorry, readers, I got off a few stops ago. 


I'm sorry, but I'm no longer enjoying the ride.

Globe Pi$$es on Pope

That can be the only explanation for the censorship:

"Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economic theories in critique of inequality" by Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein  /  Washington Post /  November 26, 2013

Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a lengthy paper outlining a populist philosophy that he says will guide his papacy as he pushes the Catholic Church to reach out more, particularly to the disenfranchised.

I hope this guy has food tasters.

Using sharply worded phrases, Francis decried an ‘‘idolatry of money’’ and warned it would lead to ‘‘a new tyranny.’’

Already has.

And he invoked language with particular resonance in the United States, attacking an economic theory most affiliated with conservatives that discourages taxation and regulation.

‘‘Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,’’ Francis wrote in the papal statement. Full story for subscribers.

Yeah, except when you go there you get this:

Page not found.

We're sorry for the inconvenience. Here are a few suggestions to help you find your way:

    * Report a broken link or send us feedback
    * Search the archives
    * Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobe or Like us on Facebook

 Nor is it on the day's website (even though in my printed paper), thus I am forced to search the web:

“This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

“Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”

Although Francis has previously raised concerns about the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor, the direct reference to “trickle-down” economics in the English translation of his statement is striking.

The phrase has often been used derisively to describe a popular version of conservative economic philosophy that argues that allowing the wealthy to run their businesses unencumbered by regulation or taxation bears economic benefits that lead to more jobs and income for the rest of society.

Sounds good, but they only meant big bu$ine$$ and corporations there. 

Liberals and Democratic officials have rejected the theory, saying it is contradicted by economic evidence....

Their theory of prosperity through taxation has also been discredited.

And then the piece also becomes some sort of twisted and censored pos, much like the church. Pope mu$t have hit some nerves.


Related: Winds of Change in the Church 

Blowing in the wrong direction, 'eh?

Bad Steward Post Puttered Away

"Former Steward executive faces obstruction charge" by Robert Weisman |  Globe Staff,  November 26, 2013

The former chief operating officer of Boston’s Steward Health Care System has been indicted by a Florida grand jury on a charge he obstructed a federal investigation into the national hospital chain where he previously worked.

An Oct. 3 indictment against Joshua S. Putter, 48, of Needham was unsealed Tuesday by a magistrate at the US District Court in Fort Myers, Fla., accusing him of destroying, altering, or falsifying records. The grand jury has been examining financial fraud allegations against Naples-based Health Management Associates, where Putter had been a high-ranking executive before joining Steward.

Putter was hired by Steward chief executive Ralph de la Torre in October 2011 to bring his management experience from a large for-profit health care system to Massachusetts, where Steward runs 10 community hospitals, a rehabilitation center, and a doctors network.

But in June, employees were told Putter was taking an indefinite leave from Steward for what were called personal reasons. Since then, he has left the company, a spokeswoman said.


Several Steward executives who Putter recruited during the past two years, including the presidents of four of its community hospitals, also came from Health Management Associates. One of those presidents, Daniel Knell, stepped down from the helm at Quincy Medical Center in July following a tense one-day strike by its nurses in April, and harsh findings from a state inspection in May that led to a temporary closure of the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

One of Putter’s lawyers, Lee Hollander of the Naples law firm Hollander & Hanuka, said his client surrendered Tuesday and pleaded not guilty before the federal magistrate, Judge Douglas Frazier, in Fort Myers. Putter was released after posting a $250,000 bond, according to Hollander. He said Putter is scheduled to appear at a Dec. 9 status conference before Judge John E. Steele at US District Court in Fort Myers.

A trial is scheduled for January. If convicted, Putter faces up to 20 years in federal prison, according to a statement from acting US Attorney A. Lee Bentley III.

The one-count indictment cites the “destruction, alteration, or falsification of records” from federal investigations on or about Oct. 7, 2008, when Putter was a division president at Health Management Associates. In a companion document, Bentley said his office is continuing to present evidence of related offenses to the grand jury. “A request from the grand jury for a superseding indictment to add additional charges is anticipated in the next 45 days,” the US attorney’s document said.

Putter’s indictment by the US Department of Justice stems from an ongoing investigation of Health Management Associates by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Office of Health and Human Services, and the US Office of Inspector General.

Separately, the national hospital chain disclosed in May that the Securities and Exchange Commission sought documents related to its accounting, billing, and revenue from privately insured patients as well as those insured through Medicare and Medicaid, the government health insurance programs for senior citizens and low-income residents.

MaryAnn Hodge, a spokeswoman for Health Management Associates, said in a statement Tuesday that the company had just been notified about the unsealed indictment. “Health Management has been cooperating with [the] inquiry for more than two years and will continue to do so,” she said.

Health Management Associates agreed in July to be acquired by another for-profit hospital company, Community Health Systems Inc., based in Franklin, Tenn., for about $7.6 billion.

That's a healthy acqui$ition, 'eh?


I $uppo$e it is telling that so many health articles are found in the bu$ine$$ section, 'eh?

John Henry to Cut T&G

"John Henry says he will sell Telegram & Gazette" by Beth Healy |  Globe Staff, November 26, 2013

A month after acquiring The Boston Globe and related New England news outlets from The New York Times Co., John W. Henry is looking to sell the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Henry announced his plans to employees in Worcester on Tuesday afternoon, saying he hoped to find a local buyer for the T&G and its website, but that no deal was imminent.

“I think it’s important for the Telegram & Gazette to be under local ownership,” Henry said at a gathering in the T&G newsroom Tuesday, the company reported on its website.

Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, bought the Globe, the Worcester paper, and both companies’ websites in October for $70 million. He published a letter in the Globe on Oct. 27 titled “Why I Bought the Globe,’’ in which he did not mention the T&G, fueling questions in Worcester about that newspaper’s future ownership.

At the Tuesday meeting, Henry also reportedly told the T&G staff he was looking for a buyer with a passion for the Worcester newspaper. “Just as the Globe should not be the little brother or sister to The New York Times, the Telegram should not be the little brother or sister of the Globe,” he said, according to the T&G report.

If he doesn’t find the right buyer, he told the T&G employees, “You’re stuck with me.”

The Times Co. bought the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in 2000 for $295 million, seven years after buying the Globe for $1.1 billion.

Possible bidders for the Worcester paper could include Ralph D. Crowley Jr., chief executive of Polar Beverage owner Polar Corp., a Worcester-based soda maker and bottling company. He tried to buy the T&G in 2009, when the Times Co. last tried to sell its New England media properties.

GateHouse Media Inc., owner of the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, is another potential buyer, the T&G reported.

RelatedNew owner cuts jobs at Cape Cod, New Bedford papers

Hey, as long as they pay good.

Also seeCape Cod Fraud

And you wonder why I do not trust newspapers anymore?


Related: Sunday Globe Special: John Henry a Hit With Globe 

Is he a hit with you?

The $imp$ons

I say the movie but I never really watched the show. Sorry.

"‘Simpsons’ reruns sold to FXX in first cable deal" by Bill Carter |  New York Times,  November 16, 2013

NEW YORK — In one of the biggest television syndication deals in history, “The Simpsons” will finally be moving to cable television — and, not too surprisingly, the longest-running family show in TV history is staying in the family.

The 21st Century Fox family, that is, which owns the studio that created “The Simpsons,” (20th Century Fox Television); the network that broadcasts it (Fox); and now the cable network, FXX, that has acquired both cable and streaming rights to the more than 500 episodes.

Terms were not disclosed, but bidding for the highly coveted “Simpsons” library was reported to be intense, rising toward the $1 billion range.

After the television unit announced the sale, analysts estimated a purchase price of between $1 million and $2 million an episode, putting the overall value in the range of $550 million to $1 billion-plus.

The shows will begin airing in August 2014.

These rights include not only the exclusive exposure on the FXX cable network, the new comedy offshoot of the FX Network, but also video-on-demand and streaming rights. That means, for the foreseeable future, the episodes are likely to contain some form of advertising and not find their way onto increasingly popular ad-free subscription services like those offered by Netflix or Amazon.

The sale came after what was officially described as a “vigorous bidding war,” which is something of boilerplate language for Hollywood deals, but which in this case was almost certainly true.

Other cable networks, especially the Turner networks, TBS (which is based on repeats of hit network comedies) and “Adult Swim,” which has carved out an identity substantially on reruns of other Fox network animated comedies like “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” had intense interest in acquiring the enormous package of “Simpsons” episodes.

When Gary Newman, chief executive of 20th Century Fox Television, announced the prospective cable sale in September, he called the show “the greatest television asset of all time,” emphasizing that with 530 episodes completed (and at least one more season of original shows scheduled), “The Simpsons” could run as a nightly entry on a cable network and not have to repeat an episode for more than a year.

In addition, Newman noted, a network could turn the month of October into an all-Halloween-theme month using just the series’ famed “Treehouse of Horrors” episodes.

Of course, “Simpsons” episodes have not been locked away in a closet, like prized baseball cards. For two decades, repeats of “The Simpsons” have been widely seen on local broadcast television stations. But every other sitcom hit of recent vintage, from “Seinfeld” to “The Big Bang Theory,” has been made available in multiple sales to broadcasters and cable networks. Studios rarely leave such opportunities on the table.

But “The Simpsons” was locked into a unique — and now vintage — deal. The show was first sold into syndication in the first year of the Clinton administration, 1993.


Slow Saturday Special: Covidien Job Cuts

Aren't they a sponsor of the Boston Red Sox?

"Covidien eliminates about 70 jobs in Mansfield" by Robert Weisman |  Globe Staff, November 15, 2013

Irish medical supplies company Covidien PLC is shedding nearly 150 jobs worldwide, including about 70 at its US headquarters in Mansfield as part of a five-year plan to cut costs.

Workers losing their jobs were notified in stages over the past two months since Covidien — which spun off its drug-making business last summer — approved a restructuring plan Sept. 18 that calls for the company to consolidate its manufacturing and distribution sites.

“These changes have been made to improve our operational and cost structure, align to our newly formed medical devices organization, and support our strategic imperatives,” said Covidien spokeswoman Lisa Clemence. She said affected employees will receive severance pay.

Covidien has about 38,000 workers globally, including 1,800 in Massachusetts.

In a September regulatory filing, the company said its restructuring plan aimed to save $250 million to $300 million annually, starting in the 2014 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

The plan will focus on “reducing corporate expense, expanding the use of shared services in low-cost locations, outsourcing services where appropriate, streamlining the company’s organizational structure, consolidating manufacturing locations, consolidating and optimizing distribution centers, and expanding low-cost country sourcing,” according to the filing. Covidien expects most of the restructuring to be done by the end of 2018.

At the corporate office in Mansfield, the cuts were made across all functions, including administrative services, legal affairs, and information technology, Clemence said.

Covidien, incorporated in Dublin, is the former Tyco HealthCare, which was divested by parent Tyco International Ltd. in 2007. Over the past five years, Covidien has acquired more than a dozen mostly small medical device and supplies companies around the world. In a major strategic move, the company in July completed the spinoff of its large pharmaceuticals division. That business now operates as Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, with its headquarters in Dublin and its US home office in St. Louis.


Grabbing the Globe Bull By the Balls

"Bull escapes farm, lumbers through Newburyport" by Melissa Hanson |  Globe Correspondent, November 16, 2013

A 700-pound, 8-month-old bull took a little stroll in Newburyport Friday, to the surprise of dozens of onlookers.

The young black Angus bull had escaped from his home, Tendercrop Farms, in the neighboring town of Newbury.

His owner, Matt Kozazcki, said he got the “bovine 911 call” at 9 a.m. The bull had somehow escaped from its barn and was headed into town.

“We went looking for it,” said Kozazcki. “It was running.”

Kozazcki described the episode through laughter, giving a play-by-play of the baby bull weaving through city streets. People in their cars gawked at the sight, and those on the street stopped to snap pictures, he said.

“Luckily, he wasn’t angry,” said Kozazcki, who joked that the bull may have been searching for his mother at Newburyport’s Black Cow Tap and Grill restaurant.

Kozazcki said about 40 people joined the effort to capture the bull. After a two-hour chase, the bull became trapped in the gates of the city’s harborside sewage treatment plant and Kozazcki and company were able to catch him.

“It was pretty funny,” he said. “No one got hurt. We can laugh after.”

Yeah, thankfully the bull wasn't killed.

Kozazcki said other animals have escaped from the farm before, but none have ever hoofed it so far into town.


Deignan Was a Drug Addict

"Former Watertown policeman gets 3 months in ID case" by Milton J. Valencia |  Globe Staff, November 16, 2013

Joseph Deignan, a retired Watertown police sergeant, could have faced two years in prison for aggravated identity theft after stealing someone’s ID and using it to buy prescription painkillers.

But the 58-year-old pleaded guilty to lesser charges in August, and on Friday US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock contemplated in court whether to sentence him to prison at all.

His lawyer, Thomas M. Hoopes, had argued before Woodlock and in court records that his client worked hard in the community, is a family man, and has already been shamed enough. He said that Deignan has undergone drug addiction treatment.

But Woodlock said he needed to send a stronger message to the community, citing Deignan’s betrayal of public trust.

“This is not merely dealing drugs,” the judge said. “It’s taking somebody’s identity. It’s a matter of fundamental seriousness.”

Deignan, a 24-year veteran of the Watertown force before his retirement in 2012, was sentenced to three months in prison.

He must also serve three years of supervised probation and pay a $10,000 fine.

Woodlock also sentenced Deignan to drug and mental health counseling, though he said he hopes that the disgraced former police officer has already found the right path.

“Sanctions are not merely as important to me as what you do with your life hereafter,” the judge said. “You have much to be thankful for.”

Dozens of family members and friends attended the court hearing, as well as Watertown police officers and Chief Edward Deveau. The chief would not comment after the hearing.

The Watertown Retirement Board is considering whether it can revoke Deignan’s pension.

He was first arrested in December as part of an investigation of identity fraud. Authorities later determined that, while working as a traffic supervisor in 2010, Deignan stole a man’s license and used it to obtain phony prescriptions for oxycodone and other prescription drugs....


Students Duct-Taped to Back of Maine Bus

"Bus driver in duct-taping placed on leave

A Maine bus driver who made students wear duct tape over their mouths for being loud is no longer behind the wheel of a bus. The bus driver at Surry Elementary School was removed from her position last week after two fourth-grade girls told their principal the driver made them put the tape over their mouths. The Portland Press Herald reported that neither the school district nor the company that contracted to provide bus service has identified the driver. She is on leave during an investigation. Principal Cathy Lewis said she learned that the driver had been using duct tape for weeks on students, including two kindergartners. She said the driver denied it."

Operation Limehouse

"Police arrest 31, say suspects ran drug ring" by Dan Adams |  Globe Correspondent, November 15, 2013

After a months-long wiretapping investigation that began with a complaint about prostitution, police said Friday they had arrested 31 members of a dangerous, highly organized drug trafficking network and had seized large amounts of drugs and cash.

The multiagency effort, dubbed Operation Limehouse after a district in London, culminated in raids Thursday night and Friday morning in Boston, Quincy, and other Eastern Massachusetts communities.

Police searched 18 houses and eight vehicles and said they found drugs, money, and weapons hidden behind walls and in secret compartments. In total, officers seized one kilo of heroin, a half-kilo of cocaine, unspecified amounts of marijuana and prescription painkillers, and more than $140,000 . Police also confiscated four handguns, a Winchester rifle, and more than 150 rounds of ammunition.

The criminal organization had its hub in Roxbury, police said, but key members were arrested at homes in Attleboro, Duxbury, Quincy, and Salem. Those arrested ranged from “top-level importers” of foreign-made narcotics to street-level dealers, and they face a variety of drug and weapons charges.

Prosecutors hailed the operation, which began with “controlled buys” by undercover officers, as an important step toward bringing peace to Boston’s streets.

“Drugs obviously drive the violence in our city, and it’s very key that we focus on the drugs, because behind the drugs are the guns,” said Boston Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey. “This was quite an operation.”

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley echoed Linskey in characterizing the arrested men and women as violent, saying they were organized, disciplined, and conducted business “at the point of a gun.”

The operation involved listening in on hundreds of phone calls between gang members, a tactic that Conley stressed was approved and supervised by a state judge.

“It’s not just some kind of a willy-nilly listening into private citizens’ phone calls,” Conley said during a news conference at Boston police headquarters Friday. “This was based on probable cause.”

Twenty-one of the 31 people arrested were arraigned Friday afternoon in Boston Municipal Court. The 10 who were not in court include two whose identities are pending, and eight who will be summonsed later on lesser charges, according to Conley’s office.

Prosecutors divided the suspects into tiers based on their rank and involvement with the drug network. The highest-ranking members were held on bail as high as $2 million, while those in lower tiers had bail set as low as $2,000 or were released on their own recognizance.

Prosecutors said most of the group’s leaders were older career criminals, veterans of the criminal justice system who were perhaps seeking a final payday.

“The defendants charged in this case, by and large, aren’t young men fresh to the game,” Conley said. “They had a business plan, and that was to make as much money as possible by selling narcotics through carefully selected runners and distributors.”

Under Massachusetts law, anyone convicted of trafficking large quantities of heroin faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Conley used the occasion to ask legislators to pass a law giving police more leeway to use wiretapping to solve violent crimes in Boston. He called the current statute, which limits wiretapping to cases involving organized crime, an outdated relic of the 1960s, when the Mafia ruled Boston’s underworld.

“Today we deal with a different sort of crime,” Conley said. “This [case] just really demonstrates how the power of the wiretap can effectively take down violent criminals.”

The main law enforcement groups involved in the operation were state, Boston, and Quincy police.

Departments in Attleboro, Abington, Salem, and Duxbury were not involved in the investigation but were notified of and participated in the searches and arrests.