Separation anxiety

The scenes of children being stripped away from their parents at the country’s southern border are hitting a nerve even with those not generally inclined to lash out at the nativist nabobs running things in Washington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, he often of little spinal fortitude, declared his opposition to the Trump administration policy. For religious leaders who have been among Trump’s strongest supporters, it’s a bridge too far. “I think it’s disgraceful, it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Franklin Graham, son of the late famed evangelist Billy Graham and a big Trump backer, said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Locally, about 300 people gathered in front of the State House yesterday to protest the policies. “The harmful and unjust policy of separating children from their parents must be ended,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a statement.

Defending what many see as the indefensible fell yesterday to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. It may not have been her finest hour.

Does the administration support separating children from parents, she was asked repeatedly at an afternoon press briefing.

Her main line of defense was that border officials are simply following the law. Which would be a fine answer if it were only true.

While separating children from parents is the law when adults are being detained on criminal charges, it was the Trump administration’s decision in April to begin charging criminally those crossing the border illegally. Previously, such border crossers were charged with civil infractions, which does not trigger separation of families.

The briefing turned testy when Sanders mocked the intelligence of frequent White House foil Jim Acosta of CNN and was then blistered in an unusually personal question from Brian Karem, a columnist for Playboy who asked Sanders, as a parent, how she could defend such a policy.

“I’m well acquainted with BS when I see it and hear it,” Karem said to Politico about Sanders denying that the separations are a direct result of Trump administration policy. “After so much of it, I’m only human.”

Only making matters worse were comments yesterday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a speech to law enforcement officers in Indiana, where he invoked the Bible in defending the family separation practice.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

That passage was also invoked in the 1840s and 1850s by defenders of the South and slavery, John Fea, a historian at Messiah College, a private Christian school in Pennsylvania, told the Washington Post.

Which may be why comedian Patton Oswalt suggested in a tweet that, in considering complicated matters of modern life, we refrain from treating the Bible as, well, the gospel.

“Dear people citing The Bible,” he wrote. “It’s a cool book with some wonderful passages but it also has ghost sex & giants & super babies & demons. It’s why we don’t make laws based on Game of Thrones, My Little Pony or Legend of Zelda.”



Putting a price on carbon gains momentum in Massachusetts, as the Senate passes legislation authorizing a “market-based compliance mechanism” and National Grid says the tax is needed if the state is going to have a shot at meeting its greenhouse gas emission targets for 2030 and 2050. (CommonWealth)

A new state audit finds the Department of Conservation and Recreation is still struggling as a landlord. (CommonWealth)

The Baker administration is urging local police chiefs to strip gun licenses from several hundred people who were cleared to get licenses by a state review board, but whose criminal records run afoul of federal law that prohibits them from being licensed to have guns. (Boston Globe)


Boston’s planning department approved a $400,000 study, funded from a mitigation account funded by a big Seaport developer, to consider whether a gondola line running through the district makes sense as a way to relieve traffic woes. (Boston Herald)

The city planning department also adopted new rules to make large buildings more resilient to the effects of climate change. (Boston Globe)

Rockland Selectman Deirdre Hall is trying to block release of a surveillance video central to her charges that Town Administrator Allan Chiocca acted inappropriately toward her, saying in a court filing it would cause further embarrassment to her family and give an incomplete picture of the encounter. Chiocca, who has been placed on leave pending an investigation, says the video will show that Hall, who has dropped out of a race for state representative, was the sexual aggressor. (Patriot Ledger)

The debate over changing the name of Yawkey Way wasn’t really a debate at all. (CommonWealth)

The Fall River City Council voted to send the budget back to Mayor Jasiel Correia for him to restore funds for the pay-as-you-throw trash program after they rejected his proposal to eliminate the controversial system. (Herald News)

Framingham officials have placed the historic Nobscot Chapel up for sale as the city looks to redesign the busy intersection where the building is located. (MetroWest Daily News)


A 500-page report by the Department of Justice Inspector General found that former FBI head James Comey was “insubordinate” but said there was no basis for claims of bias in the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the decision not to bring charges. (New York Times) Allies of President Trump see the report as an opening to undercut the Russia election-meddling investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (Washington Post)


Lots of business, political, and policy types in the state now have an 8 a.m. morning ritual: checking the state courts Twitter feed that announces what Supreme Judicial Court cases will have rulings issued that day to see whether the court has finally decided whether the proposed millionaires tax can appear on the November ballot. (Boston Globe)

Rahsaan Hall of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts brought the organization’s “What a difference a DA makes” campaign to Pittsfield. (Berkshire Eagle)


A study of bikeshare programs in three major cities including Boston finds user participation remains predominantly white despite efforts to reach communities of color. (U.S. News & World Report)

Edwin Sumpter of Roxbury is mounting a campaign to have the Red Sox diversify the summer concerts held at Fenway Park. All the performers this summer are white men, and the same has been true in past years. (WBUR)

Apple is closing a security loophole that law enforcement agencies have been using to crack cell phones. (New York Times)

The private Fall River Office of Economic Development has dissolved and renamed itself and changed its duties in the wake of a dispute with Mayor Jasiel Correia, who severed the nonprofit’s ties to the city and ended its annual $300,000 stipend. (Herald News) The origins of the dispute were a central part of a recent profile of Correia in the winter issue of CommonWealth.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is putting up for the sale the land where the MidTown Hotel in Boston has sat for nearly 60 years, which likely spells the end for the modest-priced hotel. (Boston Globe)

With most people eager to ignore the poor, sometimes blocking a street is the only way to draw attention to desperate situations, writes Nestor Ramos in the Globe.


A parent questioned the legality of a speaker leading the audience in prayer at the Haverhill High School graduation, and Mayor James Fiorentini said she was right and it wouldn’t be allowed to happen again. (Eagle-Tribune)

Becker College reaches a legal settlement with a student who alleged she was harassed by a school janitor. Terms were not disclosed. (Telegram & Gazette)


Eric Schultz, who abruptly resigned as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care over specified behavior “inconsistent” with the company’s values, has been a steady donor to Massachusetts pols, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, both of whom have declined to weigh in on whether the public is owed more explanation of Schultz’s departure from the huge nonprofit insurer. (Boston Herald)

A tentative agreement averted a second strike by nurses at Berkshire Medical Center. (Berkshire Eagle)


Boston officials plan to spend $400,000 studying whether a gondola system makes sense as a way to move people around in the Seaport District. (Boston Herald) Jim Aloisi thinks the gondola approach is madness, and Ari Ofsevit doesn’t think a gondola system will fly. Both Aloisi and Ofsevit are TransitMatters board members. (CommonWealth)

The C-Trail, a state-funded, Amtrak-run train between Springfield, Hartford, and New Haven, is set to go. (MassLive)


Federal inspectors gave the beleaguered Pilgrim nuclear power plant a positive report, saying the facility’s owners addressed and fixed the 24 violations cited in a previous inspection that had placed the Plymouth plant in the lowest category of performance. (Cape Cod Times)

A Salem News editorial hails Rockport for banning smoking on beaches and urges other communities to do the same.


A poll indicates 46 percent of Massachusetts voters want Wynn Resorts to continue building and to operate its $2.5 billion casino in Everett, while 38 percent said they wanted the project halted. Nearly half of the women surveyed said they wanted Wynn gone from the project because of the sexual misconduct allegations against former president Steve Wynn. (MassLive)

Massachusetts marijuana research czar Julie Johnson envisions building a national database and hosting a national conference on pot. (MassLive)

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said he won’t approve funding for four city councilors to go on a marijuana fact-finding trip to Colorado. (MassLive)


The Salem News digs into sex offender examiners, psychologists who evaluate sex offenders after they have served their criminal sentence and are charged with determining whether they remain dangerous or not.

The state Board of Bar Overseers has charged a disbarred Holliston lawyer with practicing divorce mediation without a license. (MetroWest Daily News)


Karen Andreas, the publisher of the North of Boston Media Group, which includes the Eagle-Tribune, Salem News, Gloucester Times, and the Daily News of Newburyport, said the newspaper business is not dying. She said her media group has a combined 7.7 million page views per month from about 1.4 million digital readers. She said the Daily News averages 1.1 million page views and almost 200,000 individual readers a month. (Eagle-Tribune)