State & Region briefs: School cancels Anthony Scaramucci event over lawsuit threats

  • Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci poses for a photograph after an interview with the Associated Press in Jerusalem, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. Scaramucci told The Associated Press on Monday that although he has not spoken to Donald Trump in over a month, he talks to the president's inner circle "regularly" and considers himself a media "surrogate" for the administration. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit) Ariel Schalit

Monday, November 27, 2017
School cancels Anthony Scaramucci event over lawsuit threats

MEDFORD — Tufts University postponed an event with Anthony Scaramucci after the former White House communications director threatened a lawsuit over an opinion piece published in the student newspaper.

Scaramucci was scheduled to speak at the university’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on Monday, but a university spokesman told The Boston Globe the event would be delayed until “legal matters” are resolved.

In a letter dated Nov. 21, Scaramucci’s lawyer said he would take legal action unless the newspaper retracted “false and defamatory allegations of fact” in an op-ed piece calling for Scaramucci’s removal from an advisory board at the school. Scaramucci is a 1986 graduate of the school.

Graduate student Camilo Caballero wrote in a Nov. 6 piece that a man “who is irresponsible, inconsistent, an unethical opportunist and who exuded the highest degree of disreputability should not be on the Fletcher Board.”

The piece also criticized a poll posted by The Scaramucci Post Twitter account as “giving comfort to Holocaust deniers.” Scaramucci said the poll, which asked users how many Jews were killed in the mass slaughter, was posted without his permission. He said a Jewish friend conceived of the idea to highlight the public’s ignorance of the event.

Caballero says Scaramucci is trying to prevent him from using his First Amendment rights.

“He is someone that uses his money to gain power and his wealth to buy himself into things that will get him attention,” Caballero said. “And he uses this power as a scare tactic.”

Caballero’s piece echoed some of the complaints raised by other students and administrators who signed a petition calling for Scaramucci’s removal from the board. Scaramucci said he had been looking forward to responding to the concerns until Monday’s event was called off.

“I’m shocked that a university that I love and have been a part of for 35 years is silencing that debate because of my request for an apology,” he said.

Navy pilot from Massachusetts called hero for actions

DALTON — One of the three U.S. Navy sailors who died in an aircraft crash in the Philippine Sea last week grew up in western Massachusetts.

Family members say 28-year-old Navy pilot Lt. Steven Combs Jr. grew up in Dalton and graduated from St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield.

The C-2A “Greyhound” transport aircraft was traveling to the USS Ronald Reagan when it crashed the day before Thanksgiving. Eight people were rescued.

One of Combs’ sisters, Elizabeth Combs, says her brother was piloting the aircraft and managed to settle it in the sea, allowing for the rescue of the eight people who survived. The Navy called Combs’ actions “heroic.”

His sister says Combs was a natural athlete who played soccer, softball and baseball but had a passion for skiing.

Police charge Lyft driver for assaulting 2 passengers

BOSTON — Police have charged a Lyft driver with assault after he allegedly threatened two passengers with a metal pipe in Boston.

Authorities say the 45-year-old driver had just dropped off a man and a woman around 12:45 a.m. Sunday. The couple realized they had left a cellphone in the car and asked the driver to return in exchange for payment.

Boston Police say the driver engaged in an argument with the couple upon his return. Authorities say the driver grabbed the woman by the neck and threatened the couple with the pipe.

Police arrested the driver and charged him with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

Lyft tells WHDH-TV they have deactivated the driver. The ridesharing company calls the allegations “extremely concerning.”

Decision coming about future of New England shrimp fishing

PORTLAND, Maine — A decision is coming this week about whether New England’s long-shuttered shrimp fishery can reopen.

New England shrimping, largely based in Maine, has been shut down since 2013. Regulators say the shrimp are suffering from poor reproduction and warming ocean temperatures.

An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is meeting on Wednesday in Portland to decide if there will be a fishery this coming season. The shrimp fishery has traditionally taken place in the winter months.

The commission is tasked with determining if the shrimp population has recovered enough that it can withstand commercial fishing pressure. An advisory panel has recommended keeping the fishery closed.

Family says huge Christmas display may end after complaints

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A family could be forced to turn off its intricate Christmas display decorated with 300,000 lights because of complaints from neighbors about traffic and parking.

The Connecticut Post reports the Halliwell family’s huge decorative display in Fairfield drew about 30,000 visitors last holiday season, not counting those who drove by without stopping. The Halliwells have been putting up the display for 18 years.

This year, police plan to make some roads one way and establish temporary parking restrictions while the display is up, preventing some residents from parking outside their homes.

Neighbor Nadine Losquadro submitted a petition with 45 signatures to town officials and police asking them to come up with an alternative plan.

“We did not move into our homes knowing there would be, or could be, parking restrictions imposed on us for six weeks out of every year during prime holiday time,” she said.

She also said the heavy traffic could be a safety issue, making it difficult for ambulances or firetrucks to navigate during an emergency.

The Halliwells said nobody has gone to them directly with complaints. They said they hope to find a solution to address their neighbors’ concerns but fear there is no way to make everyone happy.

“We’re trying to figure out what to do,” Maryann Halliwell said. “It’s probably our last year. It’s a real shame.”

Her father, Gene Halliwell, said ending the display could be bad for nearby businesses.

“People come here and have dinner and then go see the lights,” he said.

He said ending the elaborate display also would mean an end to visitor donations, which benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, Mass.