250 Rally

About 100 people rallied against proposed budget cuts at Northampton public schools, Scott McLennan told the Valley Post. He works for the teachers' union. The union has a web site at www.MassTeacher.org. The rally was on May 17.

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On May 23 in Springfield about 50 people attended a rally to stop Wells Fargo bank from evicting a low-income family from the family's home. “The rally went really well,” Rose Webster-Smith told the Valley Post. She works for the group that organized the rally. The group has a web site at www.SpringfieldNoOneLeaves.org.

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On May 21 in Springfield about 50 people attended a climate rally. The rally organizers have a web site at https://climateactionnowma.org/our-allies/

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In Northampton on May 18 about 46 people attended a rally to demand Smith College divest from companies that support Israel's war on Gaza. The war is mostly funded by the USA. The people at the rally were graduates of Smith.

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On May 21 in Springfield about 12 people were at a rally to protest Israel's war on Gaza. One of the groups that organized the rally has a web site at www.CodePink.org.

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In Brattleboro, people who care about protecting open space are evaluating the $8.6 billion state budget, which the governor signed on May 23. The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space – mostly farmland and forestland – to development every DAY.

Vermont's effort to protect open space – and build apartments in downtowns – is called the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Gus Seelig runs VHCB. On May 17, Seelig told the Valley Post, “VHCB's base budget is a bit over $26.7 million. The  Board has discretion over how to divide those funds but it is usually a split of 50/50 and has been as much as  60 % for one purpose or the other. Over the last three years there have also been appropriations of one time funding for housing. This year any one-time money is contingent upon revenues of the state and/or the availability of American Recue Plan funds of up to $30 million. If those dollars are received they are restricted to housing.”

He went on, “In general Windham county (home to Brattleboro) has been a vigorous and successful applicant for funds. This past year we completed a housing development in Bellows Falls with Windham and Windsor Housing Trust and one in Brattleboro with M and S Development. We hope to see ground broken in Putney this fall. We have also made funding available to Tri Park, the state's largest mobile home cooperative, in Brattleboro. We have done a number of (land conservation) projects with the Windmill Hill and Putney Mountain Association in recent years as well.”

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In Brattleboro on May 21, the Brattleboro Reformer daily newspaper published a long news article about a lawsuit by Branches Pregnancy Resource Center in Brattleboro against Vermont Attorney General Charity Clarke.

Jessica Barquist works in Vermont for Planned Parenthood. On May 21, Barquist told the Valley Post her reaction to the Reformer article. Barquist said, “I cannot weigh in on the ongoing court case and am only commenting on the record of anti-abortion centers (AACs) in this country and the services that we provide at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At PPNNE, we believe all people deserve access to medically-accurate information and a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services -- including abortion. Unlike pregnancy resource centers, also known as anti-abortion centers (AACs), PPNNE provides our patients with unbiased health information and high-quality, compassionate care at licensed health centers. We ensure that each patient has the ability to control their own body without interference, harassment, or intimidation. Whether it's choosing a birth control method that's best for them, learning about ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections, getting screened for cervical cancer, or accessing an abortion when and where they need one, Planned Parenthood is here to help our patients protect their health, lives, and futures.”

Barquist said, “AACs look like health care centers, but they are not. Most AACs aren't legitimate medical clinics and are not required to follow HIPAA or keep patient information private. These anti-abortion centers have a clear agenda - to scare, shame, or pressure patients out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health. Once they have lured pregnant people into the facility, they peddle misinformation, stoke fear by framing abortion as dangerous, and amplify false claims that are not based in science.”

Barquist said, “At Planned Parenthood, we have the best interest of our patients in mind - not bias or an agenda. Their safety and health are our top priority. To access a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services, patients can call 866-476-1321 or visit www.ppnne.org.”

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