Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Bill O’Reilly was pulled off his pedestal at Fox News by the Rupert Murdoch family, but only after so many women exercised their outrage against sexual harassment. The tall statue of “the iconic most powerful name in news” was given a shove by women whose spontaneous anger gave corporate America the jitters.

Bill O’Reilly’s ouster really is a big deal. Time was when the FCC had a regulation called The Fairness Doctrine - a rule that required broadcasters to present controversial issues in an evenhanded way. But in 1987, a time of deregulation, that doctrine was scrapped – leading to intense partisanship in broadcasting and notably the birth of Fox News.

Martin: All Are Welcome

Apr 24, 2017

When I was a kid, I learned in school that the United States was the best country in the world because we were a melting pot. No matter where you came from, no matter your color, creed, or bank account, you could come here, learn English, work hard, and become an American.

In the spring of 1969 I worked in the apple orchards at Scott Farm in Dummerston. And back then I’d never heard of climate change. Yet today, Zeke Goodband, the manager of Scott Farm is relying more on wild bees for pollination because they work in cooler temperatures and tolerate wind and wet weather. And Goodband says native bees seem more resilient and better able to deal with climate instability.

I learned about LaCrosse, Wisconsin, from a Planet Money episode called, The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death - a city of more than fifty thousand residents, where ninety-six per cent of them have an Advance Care Plan on file.

The use of online communication to advance social causes has created some clever new words, like clicktivsm – the signing of online petitions to feel part of social change.

Many small colleges are struggling with low inquiry, application, and admission rates, including here in the Northeast. Rising tuitions, student loan abuses, and radical change in employment patterns have discouraged many students who then choose to bypass college and just enter the workforce at a lower level of opportunity.

Watts: Boys Adrift

Apr 18, 2017

We’re approaching a critical date in the world of college admissions – the day students put down their deposits and name their college choices. But admissions officers and college presidents already know one thing for sure – that the incoming class will have more women than men.

Just a few days ago, a black vulture appeared above Walpole, New Hampshire, thirty-seven years after I confirmed the first turkey vulture nest in northern New England.

Walter Scheidel, a Stanford humanities professor, builds on Joseph Stiglitz's and Thomas Piketty's work on economic inequality with his own book, The Great Leveler, Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-first Century.

For decades now, American colleges have been working to identify their first African-American students. The implicit message is that any college that can claim an early black student has a legacy of tolerance.

Boston Herald.

Thirty thousand men and women are in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to take part in the one hundred and twenty first running of the Boston Marathon. As the participants crowd together at the start, the energy will build until it’s released by the starting gun. And as the competitors surge forward, enthusiastic spectators will cheer them along for twenty six point two miles.

In order to better understand why our roads turn to soup about now, here’s a short Mud Season 101.

During the recent campaign for governor, several candidates suggested that Vermont should use some of its debt capacity to issue a housing bond. And while Governor Phil Scott didn’t come up with this idea himself, to his credit, he’s now adopted it and proposed a thirty five million dollar housing bond.

Never mind the robins; one of the first signs of spring in Vermont is the orange-breasted flagman - or flagwoman – as is increasingly common.

The EB-5 fraud case that was exposed a year ago was a suitable capper to one of the worst ski seasons in memory. A million skier days had been lost in a single winter, as the short, warm season ended with scandal.

At first Vermont and Mississippi don’t appear to have much in common, but a recent report notes that they’re the only two states who’ve never sent a woman to Congress. Released by South Burlington-based Change the Story last week, Vermont Women and Leadership is the fourth in a series of studies related to women’s economic status in the Green Mountain State.

After much procrastination, my husband and I completed our Advance Directives – just before witnessing my cousins scramble to make decisions about my aunt’s end of life as she lay in a coma in a hospital in San Juan. I remember thinking how grateful I was to have my directive on file with my doctor, my hospital and the Vermont Registry.

Former state naturalist and author Charles Johnson, and Bruce Post, a longtime Congressional aide, now retired, have written and posted online a statement they call “The Mountain Manifesto” in which they declare: “We have created this Mountain Manifesto because we feel the mountains are now under siege… this time for the seemingly insatiable human craving for energy.”

Welcome back to the never-ending debate on the cost of educating our children. Montpelier urges citizens not to spend any more money on education, school boards denounce the teachers’ union and parents worry about what effect the resulting debate may have on what they care most about: their kids.

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