Memorial Day Is a Day to Reflect upon Those Who Gave the Last Full Measure

The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, a three-day weekend that for most Americans marks the start of the summer season. Many will celebrate appropriately with barbecues and outdoor activities with family and friends.

However, amidst our festivities, we should not forget that Memorial Day is America’s most solemn national holiday, marking our nation’s tribute to those who made the Supreme Sacrifice for our country.

Memorial Day initially was observed on May 30 and was known as Decoration Day, in an era before the turn of the 20th century, when the Northern states paid tribute to the Union soldiers — who gave their lives to preserve America as we know it — by decorating their graves that were a part of the landscape of every Northern community whose sons died to preserve the Union and free the slaves.

That tradition continues to this day, with the graves of those who gave their lives for their country being decorated with American flags and flowers around the country, whether by veterans organizations or family members.

The new century soon brought with it wars, seemingly every generation, that would give new meaning to the words Supreme Sacrifice. Starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898, American blood was shed on foreign soil in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and then Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention in other far-off places around the world that are known only to our government.

Although history has been less than kind in judging the wisdom of our policy-makers who involved us in many of these conflicts, what is beyond dispute is that in every war to which we have sent our young men and women, they have performed with courage and patriotism in the belief that they were serving the best interests of our nation.

For those of us who have been spared the horrors of war, it is difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf by those who served — and died — while wearing the uniform.

It is these brave Americans, who gave “the last full measure,” whom we honor on Memorial Day. Without their heroic efforts, we would not be writing this editorial — nor would you be reading it.

So as we enjoy the long holiday weekend with friends and family, let each of us resolve to take a moment — if not longer — to thank those who gave their lives in order that we might be able to enjoy the freedoms that make America the greatest nation on earth.

Abraham Lincoln’s words in his Gettysburg address ring as true today as they in 1864:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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The Curse of Social Media and the Internet

In the aftermath of the terrible coordinated attacks by suicide bombers on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and wounded about 500 in churches and hotels across the small nation, the Sri Lankan government took the extraordinary step of shutting down social media platforms, including Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter, in order to prevent the dissemination of misinformation that might incite even more bloodshed among its various sectarian groups.

This decade has seen the spread of social media that rightly might be compared to an out-of-control wildfire. What initially was seen as an innocuous manner of sharing information among friend groups — think of friends sitting around a camp fire telling stories — has turned into a raging inferno whipped by the winds of greed and hatred that is destroying everything in its path.

Say what you want about the recently released Mueller Report, what is beyond dispute is that it shows that the Russian government used social media through coordinated bot attacks to spread misinformation among large swaths of the American public who utilize these forms of media. In short, the Russians are using social media to undermine our democracy.

The attacker in New Zealand who committed the atrocities in two mosques drew his inspiration from social media postings by right-wing organizations and individuals from around the world and then posted his carnage live online. It was hours before the social media companies were able to take down what he posted, but by then the damage had been done and his carnage had been viewed around the globe.

In some respects, these abuses of online platforms by those who wish to spread fear and disinformation are just the tip of the iceberg of the curse that has become the Internet.

There is no such thing as privacy for anybody, unless you live under the proverbial rock. Everything we do on-line is tracked and establishes a profile that can be used — and misused — by those who are keeping track.

The Chinese government is showing firsthand how the Internet can be wielded by a malevolent government (and non-government actors) to control both unfavored opposition groups and individuals.

The Chinese are employing facial recognition software to identify every person in their country — a monumental task in a nation of a billion or so people — but it already is being used to keep track of, and suppress, minority religious groups.

The Chinese government also is issuing a “score” for every person in the country — think of it as a credit score, but taken to the nth degree — that ultimately will rank every person in the country on a scale of social and economic acceptability, creating a hierarchy that will determine a person’s lifelong fate.

It also is clear that the internet has become the new battlefield among nations and others. Who needs nuclear weapons when a hostile government or terrorist organization or criminal enterprise can disable a nation’s energy grid or wreak havoc on the financial system or hold individuals and businesses hostage simply by employing malevolent software?

America’s military might — our trillions of dollars worth of aircraft carriers, stealth bombers, and drones — is no match for a computer virus or worm that attacks our nation’s infrastructure.

George Orwell, in his novel “1984,” describes a dystopian future in which the government, symbolized by Big Brother, scrutinizes every human action with the aim of creating conformity among its citizens.

Orwell wrote his novel in 1948. It is ironic — and incredibly prescient of Orwell — that the internet as we know it today was beginning to take shape in 1984.

It is clear in 2019 that the world Orwell predicted in 1984 has arrived — and we fear that things are going to get a lot worse before we figure out how to get this Frankenstein monster under control, if we ever do.

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Pupusa Fiesta Highlights Latino Cuisine; Ready to Roll Out on April 7

Pupusa Fiesta Highlights  Latino Cuisine; Ready to Roll  Out on April 7

Several local restaurants and the City’s Chelsea Prospers program is stepping up to celebrate all things about the pupusa this Sunday, April 7, at Emiliana Fiesta as part of the first annual Pupusa Fiesta.

As a precursor to the coming Night Market events, and a nod to the City’s Latino and Central American heritage, the City and local business owners have combined efforts to put on a free festival to highlight the stuffed corn tortilla delicacy – as well as all the trimmings that go with it.

Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney said that five businesses have signed up to participate in the free event, where they will have pupusa samples, forchata drinks, pupusa-making demos, curtido and mariachi music.

“It’s kind of flexing our muscles to see how well we get people together and I also wanted to have a celebration of a particular food that we have in Chelsea,” said Graney.

Julio Flores of El Santaneco Restaurant said they are very excited to participate and feel it is very important that a dish like the pupusa is being highlighted.

“We’re very excited because we opened the restaurant in 2000, and since then we’ve participated in different events like Taste of Chelsea and others,” he said. “However, this is the first time it’s going to be just about the Latino cuisine – particularly the pupusa. That’s a very huge thing.”

A pupusa is a thick corn tortilla stuffed with cheese and beans – sometimes meats as well. Curtido is a common side dish with the pupusa and it is a vinegar-based slaw made of cabbage and carrots – and a touch of spiciness.

“I think the city manager and Mimi and Chelsea Prospers are doing a great job because I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think it’s the first time there is an event just about Latino food. It also opens up the opportunity for this to happen again. I would love to see this as an opportunity to start a tradition and that it won’t be a one-time event.”

He also said it gives homage to the culture in Chelsea, but a culture that is changing.

“The City is changing,” he said. “The Latino community has been in Chelsea many years.”

The Pupusa Fiesta will take place on Sunday, April 7, from 2-5 p.m. at Emiliana Fiesta, 35 Fourth St. It is a free event.

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Appreciation – Remembering Trina Wilkerson

Appreciation –  Remembering Trina  Wilkerson

Hundreds of friends, family, former high school classmates, and co-workers paid their respects to Trina Louise Wilkerson during memorial observances at the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Malden.

Trina passed away unexpectedly on March 6. She was 45 years old.

Reggie Wilkerson, her older brother and one of Chelsea High’s greatest quarterbacks, said he appreciated the many people who came out to pay tribute to his sister’s beautiful life.

Trina was a lifelong supporter of Reggie’s and the caretaker of the well-known Wilkerson family.

“Trina was a great little sister, the best,” said Reggie. “She was always there for me. She took care of our family, and that was so important. She took so much care of everybody in our family.”

Reggie and Trina participated in Chelsea Pop Warner together, he as a football player, she as a cheerleader.

Trina was an amazing party organizer and loved being around people. She uplifted others with her smile and kind words.

When Irena Wilkerson, Reggie and Trina’s beloved mother, passed away, Trina decided to organize a party to honor her and donate the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. Reggie helped out, to be sure, but Trina was the planner who took care of the details to insure the success of the event, making sure that everyone had a good time.

Reggie said he will carry on with the fifth annual fundraiser – in memory of Irena Wilkerson and Trina Wilkerson – and host the benefit this Saturday, March 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Merritt Club.

Paying their respects

One of the many friends who turned out for the tribute to Trina Wilkerson was Phunk Phenomenon Dance Studio owner Reia Briggs Connor.

“Reia was one of my sister’s best friends,” said Reggie. “Reia, my sister, and I used to take dance lessons together at Genevieve’s. I was a dancer, too. We used to wear our little costumes.”

City Councillors Leo Robinson and Calvin Brown joined other local dignitaries in paying their respects to Trina.

“Just a great young lady,” said Calvin Brown. “I’m so fortunate to having gotten to know Trina and her beautiful family. We have lost a great person, someone who loved Chelsea and gave back to her community.”

Also turning out for the memorial observances in Malden were Trina’s co-workers at Hyde Park Community Center.

“My sister was a youth counselor in Boston, so there were a lot of youths whom my sister mentored during their childhood – they spoke at the services,” said Reggie. “It was very touching to hear their stories and how much they loved my sister and what she did to help them succeed in their lives. I was like, ‘wow, for real?’

Reggie said during the observances a gentleman approached him and said, “Your sister (Trina) helped my daughter so much. She suffered from low self-esteem, her confidence level was low and she didn’t believe in her artwork. He said to me, ‘your sister mentored her and she raised her confidence level and she got my daughter to believe in her work.

“And Reggie, I want to tell you that because of Trina, my daughter was accepted to the school of her choice – and we owe this all to your sister.”

Heartwarming stories like that about Trina – a 2017 recipient of the CBC’s prestigious Chelsea Trailblazer Award – have helped Reggie and the family during this difficult time.

“Trina did so much for kids and the community in general,” said Reggie proudly. “I want to carry on her legacy of caring and kindness and her generosity of spirit.”

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Chelsea Rehabs Its City Seal

Chelsea Rehabs Its City Seal

So much happens within every municipality that needs to be shared: upcoming events, new initiatives, important updates, celebrations of success.  And there’s myriad ways in which each department of City Hall interfaces with the public in routine ways, from applications for parking permits to business licenses, to simple correspondence to the uniforms of Department of Public Work employees  repairing the streets. Inherent in all of this communication is a message about how the municipality functions. Each represents an opportunity to say something about the City of Chelsea itself. 

The new Chelsea City Seal features a more appropriate figure and a consistent design.

To make the most of these opportunities, the City of Chelsea has just released a Style Guide that details the specific graphic style for all communications from the ten City Hall departments and nearly twenty boards and commissions. The goal of the effort is to establish a consistent brand identity that’s professional, clear, and attractive. The guide details typography, colors, photography and formatting that together create a distinctive look for City Hall’s print and digital materials. For administrative staff at City Hall, a suite of templates facilitate the quick creation of regularly needed materials within the established style. The refreshed documents include letterhead and envelopes, agendas and minutes, business cards and brochures, forms and flyers, reports and PowerPoint slide decks.

The underlying goal of the project is that quality, consistent design will demonstrate a unified voice whenever expressed by an agent of Chelsea’s city offices. Quality design demonstrates competence and professionalism. Through a clear graphic identity the public will be able to better recognize services provided by municipal government.

Over the past eight months, a team of City Hall staff representing a variety of departments worked with design consultant, Catherine Headen, to develop the guide. After reviews, working sessions and a special event with City Hall staff the completed Guide and templates are formally released this week.

A major aspect of the work was refining of the City Seal. Over the decades numerous changes had led to an evolution of the design, drifting the illustration away from the original as detailed in the banner hanging Chelsea’s City Council Chambers. When the team began, nearly a dozen different images were in use as a City Seal across municipal departments. The design details had changed so significantly that the group was surprised to discover lost elements prescribed within the City Charter: “The following shall be the device of the corporate seal of the city: A representation within a circle of a shield surmounted by a star, the shield bearing upon it the representation of an American Indian chief and wigwams; at the right of the shield, a sailboat such as was formerly used for ferriage; at the left of the shield, a view of the city and a steam ferryboat; under the shield, the word “Winnisimmet;” around the shield, the words “Chelsea, settled 1624; a Town 1739; a City 1857.”

The unveiling of the new look with take place over time. City staff will continue to use the print materials already on hand but will use the new templates for all their future materials. The new style is intended for the main City Hall departments and doesn’t extend to the City’s Police and Fire departments or to the schools.

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Green New Deal Is a Good Deal

Green New Deal Is  a Good Deal

The growing movement for the federal government to take the lead in effecting policies that will negate the effects of both economic inequality and climate change has been incorporated into what is being referred to as the Green New Deal.

Our U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, is among those who is spearheading the legislation, along with newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

The key features of the Green New Deal are both economic and environmental.

Health insurance for all Americans, job creation, and the expansion of the safety net are among the highlights of the economic aspect of the proposal.

On the environmental front, the goal is for the United States to become carbon-neutral within 10 years.

Both aspects of the proposal will face opposition in Congress from Republicans. The economic aspects will require raising taxes on the wealthy, which essentially would repeal the tax cuts approved by the GOP Congress last year.

The environmental goals will face a fierce fight from the energy industry and other business groups.

The Green New Deal seeks to address what we believe are the two great existential threats both to the American way of life and America itself :

First, that we are becoming a plutocracy — a government of the rich, for the rich, and by the rich.

Second, that climate change will wreak environmental and economic havoc on our nation with catastrophic consequences unless we take immediate steps to reverse its effects before they reach a tipping point from which we cannot escape.

Some may call the Green New Deal a pie-in-the-sky idea. But the reality is that unless we do something — and soon — about the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the imminent threat of climate change, the future of America (and the world) is grim.

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110 Grill Holds Ribbon Cutting at Its New Location in Saugus

110 Grill Holds Ribbon Cutting at Its New Location in Saugus

Ryan Dion has fond memories of his days growing up in Melrose and traveling to Route 1 to enjoy a steak at the Hilltop.

“Route 1 is my old stomping ground,” said Dion, who graduated from Melrose High (Class of 1999) and UNH with a degree in Business and Hospitality. “The old Hilltop was family dinner most Saturday nights. I remember waiting two hours for seating in Sioux City, Kansas City, and Dodge City. I use to run around the old phone booths with my brothers.”

Dion is now the chief operating officer of 110 Grill, which just celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony at its newest location on Route 1 in Saugus.

The 110 Grill in Saugus is the restaurant group’s 18th location and it sits majestically on the former site of the legendary Hilltop Steakhouse. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the lighting of the iconic Hilltop cactus.

Asked to describe 110 Grill, Dion replied, “110 Grill is upscale, casual, American cuisine in a trendy, casual atmosphere.”

110 Grill features steaks, seafood, a variety of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers, as well as monthly rotating specials that the chefs create.

Appetizers range from $7 to $15. Entrees range from $14 to $30.

Why have the 110 Grill restaurants – now in three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York) proven to be so popular with diners?

“I believe it’s three things – great food, great service, and the great ambiance,” said Dion. “What I love about our concept is being upscale casual, you can come in here in a business suit and have a $32 ribeye and a bottle of Duckhorn Cabernet, or you come in shorts and sandals from the beach, sit at the bar and have a burger and a beer. Either way, you fit in.”

The restaurants seats 155 persons, with a private function room available for lunch, dinner, and cocktail receptions.

“We’re absolutely excited to get to know the local folks,” said Dion. “We have a great crew working here from Saugus, Melrose, Revere, Lynn, and other area communities.”

110 Grill appears destined to be a huge hit on the local restaurant scene.

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What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Think?

What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Think?

When one considers that it has been almost 51 years since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, it is easy to understand why so many of our fellow Americans today have so little understanding of who he was and what he accomplished.

Every school child for the past generation knows well the story of Martin Luther King. But an elementary school textbook cannot truly convey the extent to which he brought about real change in our country. To anyone under the age of 50, Martin Luther King is just another historical figure. But for those of us who can recall the 1960s, a time when racial segregation prevailed throughout half of our country and overt racism throughout the other half, Martin Luther King stands out as one of the great leaders in American history, a man whose stirring words and perseverance in his cause changed forever the historical trajectory of race relations in America, a subject that some historians refer to as the Original Sin of the American experience.

However, as much as things have changed for the better in the past 50 years in terms of racial equality in our society, it also is clear that we still have a long way to go before can say that all Americans are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, as Dr. King famously put it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

It is clear that there is a movement in our country that seeks to take away many of the hard-fought gains of the past 50 years. The shootings and deaths of African-Americans while in police custody that have shocked all of us in the past few years are just the tip of the iceberg. Much more significant have been the judicial decisions that have stripped away key provisions of the voting rights act, the disproportionate treatment and incarceration of minorities for drug-related offenses, and the voter ID laws and gerrymandering in many states that, in the words of a federal court in North Carolina, attain with surgical precision the goal of preventing people of color from being fairly represented in government at all levels. “What would Dr. Martin Luther King do?” we often ask ourselves. We can’t say for sure, but we do know that he that as much as King accomplished in his lifetime, he would be the first to understand that his work for which he gave his life still is far from done — and we can only hope that his spirit and courage can continue to inspire this and future generations to bring about a world in which all persons are treated with dignity and respect.

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Book Review”Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World”

Book Review”Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World”

This is an exemplary retrospective of the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. Adam Tooze regales us with a depiction of the horrors that were unfurled during and after the crisis. the book is divided into four parts, each of which attends to different facets of the 10-year period following the financial disaster.

The author does a nice job of holding the reader’s interest. The book is filled with facts and figures pertinent to the monetary emergency, but Tooze does his best to make it accessible to the average reader.

The crisis originated in the United States when Lehman Brothers collapsed, but to quote Tooze: “ To view the crisis of 2008 as basically an American event was tempting,” but in fact the emergency spread all over the world, especially to the Eurozone, which experienced the brunt of the crisis around 2010 and 2011. Tooze divides the blame on liberals and  conservatives alike, although I got the feeling that he is/was a moderate left-winger.

In Europe the difficulties involved Ireland, Spain and most famously and harmfully Greece, which experienced economic turmoil after European authorities imposed austerity measures due to a terrible run on banks. European countries, especially Germany experienced great duress over the prospect of bailing out Greece.

In addition, the world was beset by what was viewed as populist political remedies, in particular the rise of Donald Trump in America and the Brexit vote in Britain. Tooze attributes most of the blame for these maladies to the shaky fiscal situation which arose from the crisis of 2008. The author lumps all these phenomena under the financial banner, and I am not sure they were all interrelated, but he does make an intersecting case for it all.

Tooze’s chapter on Trump elaborates on what the author believes to be the rise of a right wing demagogue, but he barely mentions the positive effect that Trump has had on the U.S. economy.

The crisis of 2008 was widely viewed by many to be the most unstable period since the Great Depression, which germinated in 1929 and lasted beyond the 1930s. During the latest crisis, millions of people lost their jobs and/or homes in the period from 2008 to 2015. President Obama who inherited the mess from the previous Bush Administration, did his best to contain the crisis, but the enormity of the instability was such that government intervention by itself could not contain the onslaught from the failing banks.

Adam Tooze is a gifted writer and his book on the fiscal disaster is filled with minutiae relevant to the duration of the financial difficulties.  I had never heard of Tooze before I read this book, but I will pay great heed to whatever he publishes in the future.

“Crashed” is an excellent read. The reader leaves it well informed on the niceties of finance. You, the reader will find it to be an excellent book. I recommend it heartily.

Bernie Kelly

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Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in

MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.

front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.

“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”

In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.

All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.

In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.

Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.

“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.

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