Fishing disaster

The US Commerce Department declared the New England groundfishery a disaster, a designation that could lead to $100 million in federal aid for fishermen and more reductions in catch limits. A salmon fishery in Alaska and oyster and blue crab fisheries in Mississippi were also declared disasters.

Sen. John Kerry said he has received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that a $100 million aid package for New England fishermen will be added to a bill drafted to help farmers struggling with drought. “Instead of a lack of rain, our fishermen are facing a lack of fish,” Kerry said.

Fishing was once a major industry in New England, symbolized in Massachusett by the Sacred Cod, the wooden carving of a codfish that hangs in the Massachusetts House chamber. But the industry, plagued by years of overfishing, is on the decline. Federal regulators seem to have no solid plan for bringing back stocks of cod, haddock, yellowtail, and other species.

In her disaster declaration, Rebecca Blank, the acting secretary of commerce, said fishermen in New England had been adhering to catch limits but the fishery was not coming back. “Further cuts to catch limits may be necessary in the 2013 fishing season,” she wrote.

The Gloucester Times reports that most people in the fishing business welcomed the declaration, but felt it came way too late and failed to articulate a recovery plan. WBUR reports that there will likely be a further reduction in catch limits next year, squeezing fishermen even more.

                                                                                                                                            –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The director of a state crime lab has resigned and a top official there has been fired in the wake of the scandal involving improper testing of 60,000 drug samples by a chemist, which could jeopardize thousands of criminal cases. Attorney Randy Chapman tells NECN that the crime lab problems are a disaster financially for the state and personally for people who may have been imprisoned improperly.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s City Hall greeter is called before the Essex County grand jury, indicating the probe into his administration is continuing, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Firefighters in Billerica were unable to use a 42-year-old fire hydrant because the valve was stuck, triggering a review that discovered most of the town’s hydrants are not being inspected annually as required, the Lowell Sun reports.

Faulty department policy that allowed a New Bedford police officer to take an assault rifle home in the trunk of his car led to the theft of the weapon, according to the police chief.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Winchester native Glen Doherty, remembered as a brave adventure seeker, was among the four Americans killed in the attack on a US consulate in Libya this week.

ELECTION 2012

The right is starting its rally ‘round Mitt Romney, forgiving his timing in favor of the substance of his critique of President Obama’s foreign policy. Meanwhile, Romney and Paul Ryan will start getting national security briefings from the administration next week as is customary after the conventions. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll puts Obama up by seven points in Ohio, and five in Florida and Virginia. Fossil fuel companies pour money into the presidential race, while wind and solar sit it out.

Kansas considers removing President Obama’s name from the ballot.

A new Elizabeth Warren television ad will test whether Scott Brown can take a punch. Slate’s David Weigel argues that the “professor-ization thing is pure gender politics,” but Warren’s campaign has decided “to shrug and compete on that turf.”

Retiring US Rep. Barney Frank endorses his House colleague, John Tierney, the Salem News reports. Meanwhile, former Lynn mayor Edward (Chip) Clancy says he is voting for Tierney’s Republican challenger, Richard Tisei, the Item reports. Frank, who is gay, said the fact that Tisei is also gay is not a good enough reason to endorse him, saying Tisei’s sexuality “is of no use to us.” Frank also dismissed Tisei’s claim that his bipartisanship is needed in Congress, saying Washington is so polarized that “there are no effective moderate Republicans.” Indeed, the Item reports that Frank believes a vote for Tisei is actually a vote for the anti-gay marriage Republican platform. CommonWealth reports on a Tierney ad that seeks to paint Tisei as a tea party fan.

The Cape Cod Times notes that a vote to build a new high school and a hotly contested state representative’s race in the region prove than an individual’s vote still matters.

Ted Kennedy Jr. has taken on one of his late father’s political advisors and is mulling a run, either in Massachusetts or in Connecticut, where he now lives.

CHARITY

Salaries for CEOs at nonprofits were largely stagnant or declined in 2010 for the second year in a row, according to a study by the charity watchdog Guidestar. (Via Chronicle of Philanthropy.)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A new study paints a positive picture of the future for the state’s manufacturing sector.

The conservative Weekly Standard compares former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s loan agreement from Rhode Island with the federal government’s deal with Solyndra, and not in a good way.

The Federal Reserve will buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds every month, until unemployment improves.

EDUCATION

Echoing criticism others leveled at the Boston teachers’ contract settlement, Scot Lehigh says looking for the changes needed in urban schools through traditional contract negotiations is futile.  

HEALTH CARE

CommonWealth reports on the audited financial statements of Steward Health Care, including payments made by Steward to its owner, Cerberus Capital Management.

TRANSPORTATION

The American Civil Liberties Union sues the state of Georgia on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan, which wants to participate in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

State officials have closed campsites at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod because of a deer tick infestation.

Springfield gets a thumbs up from The Republican for its decision to install solar panels on eight municipal buildings.

The MetroWest Daily News likes the idea of using Madagascar hissing cockroaches on search and rescue missions. Yes, you read that correctly,

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Children’s Hospital physician who formerly worked as medical director for Phillips Andover Academy was arrested yesterday on child pornography charges. Investigators raided the doctor’s Andover home and found 500 photographs and as many as 100 DVDs containing child pornography, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

MEDIA

A French magazine’s decision to publish topless photos of Kate Middleton is causing quite a stir, Time reports.

Reporter Gloria Negri signs off after 53 years at the Globe .

A South Dakota beef processor sues ABC News for labeling its ammonia-treated meat “pink slime.”