1. Let science, not fear, guide on Ebola health care workers

    NORTHAMPTON — Many scary things — ghosts, goblins and IRS agents — undoubtedly came to your door last evening on Halloween.

    I like Halloween. I remember as a kid going house to house dressed as a gunslinger, saying, “Trick or Treat for UNICEF.” I knew what UNICEF stood for, but I actually didn’t understand the trick or treating part until a friend explained the shakedown: hand over the Tootsie Rolls or we’re going to soap your windows, flatten your tires, or smash your pumpkins. (And actually, even if you give us candy, we might do that anyway.) But I digress.

    The point is that threats can be scary.

    Consider Ebola and Ikeoluwa Opayemi...

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  2. Where more than headlines blossom

    NORTHAMPTON — It is mid-morning on the last Sunday in September. The day’s newspapers lie open on the table on the deck which overlooks our yard. Sunlight is speckling the garden, lightly touching the cimicifuga.

    Cimicifuga, also called bugbane, is comprised of thousands of tiny translucent white flowers on top of a stem. From a distance they resemble icicles growing skyward except that they look soft and warm. Two hydrangeas near the side of the garage are still blooming. With the passage of summer they no longer are blue, but rather offer hues of green, pink and lavender.

    “U.S.-led Planes Strike Syrian Targets.” Three newspapers, three headlines, all report these bombings. “One hundred thousand refugees flee fighting” one sub-headline reads. Most of those 100,000 are escaping from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, it appears. . . .

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  3. White America’s invisible injustice

    NORTHAMPTON — Here is what we know so far about police officer Darren Wilson fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown on Canfield Drive in Ferguson, Missouri, a minute or two after noon on Aug. 9.

    Officer Wilson is white. Michael Brown is African-American.

    Brown, and his friend Dorian Johnson, 22, both unarmed, were walking in the street. A struggle of some sort occurred through the patrol car window, and Officer Wilson’s firearm discharged in the car. Brown and Johnson ran away. Officer Wilson exited his cruiser. Brown stopped, turned and faced Wilson, and the officer fired again. Neither Johnson nor Brown had any weapon. Brown died approximately 35 feet from the cruiser.

    Three autopsies have been performed — one at the request of Brown’s family by the highly regarded former chief medical examiner of New York City, Dr. Michael Baden, one by St. Louis County Medical Examiner Mary Case and one by military coroners at the behest of the federal Department of Justice. . . .

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  4. How Hatfield resident William Burke III was found guilty of a thought crime

    NORTHAMPTON — Headlines in western Massachusetts newspapers at the conclusion of the recent federal criminal trial of former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien and his assistants, Elizabeth Tavares and Hatfield resident William Burke III should have read, “Jurors reject almost all government case against Burke.”

    Instead, the headlines emphasized the half dozen guilty verdicts the jury returned against O’Brien and Tavares.

    The government alleged that O’Brien, Tavares and Burke rigged the state probation department’s hiring process by awarding jobs to applicants recommended by state legislators. The supposed pay-off was that legislators would not cut the Probation Department’s budget. . . .

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  5. Paint on, Northampton, and let’s keep debating

    NORTHAMPTON — The streets belong to the people. But what about the crosswalks?

    This issue has riveted Northampton since the Department of Public Works — at the request of a private citizen, who paid for it — painted the crosswalk on Main Street between Thornes Marketplace and TD Bank in stripes vaguely akin to the rainbow flag to celebrate Pride Day.

    A lot of people liked it, but some didn’t. The Northampton Arts Council people, for example, were miffed that no one asked their opinion or permission.

    But all in all, life around the crosswalk for some time was copacetic. Cars drove over it, pedestrians walked on it and residents debated the propriety of it — all as we are supposed to do.

    And then in June, Katherine Osborne of Washington Place requested red, white and blue stripes in the crosswalk between Pulaski Park and Masonic Street, particularly appropriate for the approach to Memorial Hall. In response, a reader of this newspaper commented . . .

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  6. The world of whistle-blowers, as seen through ACLU’s Baldwin Awards

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  7. Last-gasp bigotry against gays? Not quite yet

    NORTHAMPTON — “NO FAGGOTS ALLOWED.” “STRAIGHTS ONLY.” Some lawmakers across America want to endow businesses with the clear legal right to post signs such as these.

    The asserted right to discriminate, based purportedly on grounds of religious freedom, has a long and sordid history in America. Recall the words of Judge Leon Mazile of Virginia, who in upholding that state’s anti-miscegenation law in 1959 wrote, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents ... show(ing) that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

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  8. A botched system of capital punishment

    NORTHAMPTON — This past Tuesday, 10 minutes after the sedative midazolam began dripping into convicted murderer Clayton Lockett’s veins, executioners at the Oklahoma State Prison pronounced him unconscious. The time had come, a prison administrator directed, to inject the other death drugs into IV tubes that had been inserted into Lockett’s veins.

    But three minutes later Lockett, who remained strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, was trying to lift his head as he clenched his teeth, convulsed, gasped for air and writhed in pain. He obviously was not unconscious at all.

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  9. Helping veterans for whom the wars are not over

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  10. Words that inspired generations of activists

    In August 1955, when Pete Seeger was hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee, congressmen demanded that he name names. Did he know any Communists, Communist-sympathizers or fellow travelers?

    Many who were subpoenaed by HUAC invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not testify. Given that just two years earlier Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had been executed, essentially for being Communists, invoking the privilege against self-incrimination seemed like sensible self-preservation. But Seeger didn’t claim a Fifth Amendment privilege.

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