War & Conflict

MIT Aerospace Center Could Save Hanscom Jobs

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Sunday, April 22, 2012
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April 22, 2012

BOSTON — Hanscom Air Force base is fighting for its survival. Deep budget cuts announced earlier this year could mean the loss of hundreds of jobs there. And now the Pentagon has announced plans to close some of its bases around the country — and Hanscom could be on the list.
But salvation could be coming from Cambridge. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced plans to build a $450 million research laboratory at Hanscom. It would design small electronic parts for use in emerging aerospace, communication and missile technologies.
Marty Jones of the agency Mass Development is a part of a state task force that’s trying to position the Massachusetts bases in a positive light to prevent closures. She said that MIT's planned project will protect Hanscom from additional cuts.
"I think everyone understands technology is important today," she said. "And having a facility that is really cutting-edge and innovative should be something that's important when they're looking at which installations to close."
MIT already does a lot of business at Hanscom. According to the Boston Globe, about 3,200 MIT employees and 500 private contractors work at Hanscom — and the university is among the base’s biggest tenants. The research facility is expected to win approval in Washington.

The World: Soldiers Coming Home

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
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Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Monday, March 19, 2012
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Peer Support May Help Homeless Vets In Mass.

By Jordan Weinstein   |   Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Jan. 5, 2012

veterans food pantry

Veterans gather at a mobile food pantry in Nov. 2011. (Cristina Quinn/WGBH)

BOSTON — The Deval Patrick administration announced on Jan. 5 that Massachusetts has seen a 21 percent decrease in homeless veterans in the last year — nearly double the rate of reduction nationwide. In addition, the state is launching a pilot program to serve chronically homeless veterans in the Boston metro area. 

The pilot program, funded with a $323,000 federal grant, will provide peer support, psychiatric evaluation and connections to emergency shelters, among other elements, with agencies based in Chelsea, Lynn, Haverhill, Jamaica Plain, the South End and downtown Boston.

Coleman Nee, secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services, said in an interview with WGBH News that his personal military service in the Marines and Operation Desert Storm gives him insight into the needs of vets.

Soldiers deployed overseas sometimes have financial problems; coming home, they have to rebuild financially as well as deal with readjustment and sometimes psychiatric issues. "In most cases people are able to do it, as difficult as that is, but we know in certain cases it doesn't work out so well," Nee said — sometimes resulting in homelessness.
Roughly 56 percent of homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic. Nee wasn't sure why that was happening, though he pointed out that these populations are "under-served… in a lot of other areas."
One possibility is that services aren't provided in areas where they live, he said; another is that services aren't sensitive to cultural issues.
The new program aims to address the latter. The agency will be "talking to these veterans and doing peer-to-peer outreach... [to make] sure that the veterans we're sending out to meet with these folks and coordinate with them and get them into the system can relate to them on that personal level," Nee said.

Tamer Mehanna: 'My Brother Is Passionate'

By Adam Reilly   |   Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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Jan. 4, 2012

BOSTON — As Tarek Mehanna prepares to appeal his recent conviction on federal terrorism charges, his brother Tamer said Tarek’s translation of pro-terrorist videos and texts was misinterpreted.

Rather, he said, Tarek began translating those materials as his faith grew, as well as his opposition to U.S. foreign policy — and his intensity was in line with all his previous interests. You know those people who have minutely catalogued binders of baseball cards and statistics? Tarek, his brother said, was like that.

"My brother is passionate," Tamer Mehanna said. "He's always been the kind of individual that whatever hobby he gets into… he becomes like an expert in the field. Like a scholarly expert in the field." 

From the time the Sudbury native began to explore Islam — around 2000, before 9/11 — "he took the same approach."
Tarek Mehanna faces a possible sentence of life in prison. 

Have We Lost Sight Of Peace?

By WGBH News   |   Thursday, December 22, 2011
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Dec. 22, 2011

Iraqi security forces inspect a crater caused by a car bomb attack in the neighborhood of Karrada in Baghdad on Dec. 22. It was one in a wave of such bombings in the Iraqi capital today. (Hadi Mizban/AP)

BOSTON — Was the Iraq War worth it? The attacks across Iraq on Dec. 22, just days after American troops left, has put a point on the question .
On Dec. 15, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta defended the cost of the war, both financial and human: “Those lives have not been lost in vain. They gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.”
But not everyone agrees with him. Such as Nicholas Burns, a professor of diplomacy at Harvard and a major figure in the U.S. State Department under President George Bush. At the time, he supported the decision to go to war with Iraq. Now, he said on “The Emily Rooney Show,” he has a different opinion.
“We accomplished something in Iraq, in overthrowing Saddam Hussein. We’ve given the Iraqis a chance for a better future. So I don’t look upon it as an unmitigated disaster,” he said. However, “when I ask the question ‘if we rolled back the film would you do it again?’ I certainly would not support a military invasion of Iraq.”
Most of all, Burns wondered if we’ve lost sight of something we all give lip service to at this time of year… peace.
“Think about Lincoln after the Civil War, FDR and Truman after the Second World War, even Nixon in Vietnam. The ultimate national aspiration was peace. They said that,” he said. “Our political leaders in both parties are now not saying that. What they’re saying is ‘defend, protect ‘ — a very important thing but we’ve also got to think about, about in a democratic society, flying the flag for peace and having that as the ultimate aspiration.”

About the Authors
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.
Jordan Weinstein Jordan Weinstein
Jordan Weinstein is a news anchor for NPR's All Things Considered on WGBH, 89.7 FM in Boston.
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 


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