Category Archives: January/February 2017



Pivot toward war: US Missile Defense, the weaponization of space

by Bruce K. Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Join us for the Global Network’s 25th anniversary Space Organizing Conference and Protest on April 7-9 in Huntsville, Alabama. Huntsville is the home of Redstone Arsenal and the Space & Missile Defense Command, also known as the “Pentagon of the South.”

The effort by the Trump administration to develop and deploy the next generation of Star Wars weapons will increase global instability and cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.  The US Space Command has long maintained its mission is to create the technologies to “control and dominate” space and the Earth below – ultimately on behalf of corporate interests.

This conference will allow citizens to learn more about these important issues and become involved in the growing international movement to keep space for peace.

Huntsville is the headquarters of the Space Command’s directorate for ‘missile defense.’  The US is currently encircling Russia and China with MD systems based on Navy Aegis warships (SM-3 interceptor missiles) and with ground-based launchers (PAC-3 and THAAD).  These systems are the ‘shield’ that would be used to pick off Russian or Chinese retaliatory strikes after a Pentagon first-strike attack.

MD systems were previously banned by the US-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty because they are destabilizing and give one side an advantage.  George W. Bush pulled the US out of the ABM Treaty in 2001 and since that time the US MD program has been on steroids.

The keynote speaker at the event will be Ann Wright – retired Army Colonel and diplomat who now is a leader in Veterans for Peace. She resigned from government service after George W. Bush’s ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq in 2003.

While I was recently in Huntsville doing advance work for the April conference, Donald Trump came to Alabama for one of his victory lap appearances. He has already nominated ultra-conservative Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be the next Attorney General of the nation.  Sessions is also serving as a major adviser to Trump on space issues – so Alabama will be central to the new administration in Washington.

When I arrived at the Huntsville airport, I was taken aback by the loads of corporate space technology advertisements plastered along the walls as I made my way to baggage claim. There can be no doubt that Boeing (the largest Star Wars contractor of all) and a host of other aerospace corporations are making big money off the plans to move the arms race into the heavens.

The signs in the airport reveal this reality of Huntsville’s addiction to military spending. Like my own community of Bath, Maine (dependent on federal dollars to build Navy warships outfitted with ‘missile defense’ interceptors) more and more of America has become reliant on endless war in order to create jobs so workers can feed their families.

What does it say about the soul of our nation that we must remain in a state of endless war in order to drive our economy? These are questions we will discuss next April 7-9 when we hold the Global Network’s 25th annual conference in the ‘rocket city.’ We invite you to join us for this important event. See our web site for all conference details at 

Ibram Kendi speaks at Matheson, Feb. 25

ibram kendiThe Matheson Museum is honored to welcome Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, UF Assistant Professor of African American History and winner of the 2016 Book Award for Nonfiction for his new book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, on Saturday, February 25, at 2 p.m. A book signing will follow his presentation.

His latest book delves deep into the history of anti-Black racist ideas and how they were created. Through the lives of five intellectuals from American history, Kendi illustrates how some have challenged these racist ideas while others have helped entrench them in American culture.

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The Sabal Trail Pipeline: An environmental disaster — Celebrate this MLK Day weekend by stopping it

by Sabal Trail Resistance (STR)

By now, you’ve likely heard that there is a fracked-gas pipeline under construction through the southeastern U.S.

In the wake of effective opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies at the Missouri River crossing in North Dakota, resistance to this southern pipeline, known as Sabal Trail, has been growing.

While many are only now learning of this pipeline, it has been raising environmental justice, health, and regulatory questions among the public along the route since the scoping period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) began three years ago.

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Cinema Verde to feature 43 films from around the world, Feb. 9-12

2017 festival logo (1)Each year at Cinema Verde, we try to bring information from the outside world to our Gainesville community in the form of films that would not otherwise find their way to our big screens. When directors are able to join us, and share their knowledge about the environmental issues their films are about, it truly enriches our experience and our knowledge.

In 2012, Peter Brown joined us with his film Confessions of an EcoTerrorist, as well as Christine Heinrichs, an author of books on poultry who was featured in Mad City Chickens. Local legend Wes Skiles presented in our first year, thank goodness. It’s these chances to meet and talk with experts that make Cinema Verde a special opportunity. We have several directors interested in joining us from around the world this year, and we need your help to bring them in and to welcome them to Gainesville.

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CMC will host Changeville’s virtual reality event

Changeville is hosting its premiere virtual reality event for social change at the Civic Media Center Thursday, March 2 from 4-8 pm.

The event will be free with a Changeville pass, or atendees can make donations from $3 to $10 at the door. Food and refreshments will be available.

The event, to benefit The Civic Media Center, will feature social change-inspired installations using one of the newest mediums of virtual reality and augmented reality.

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Social change festival takes place March 2-3

changeville-poster IguanaChangeville, a two-day social change festival in downtown Gainesville will take place Thursday, March 2 through Friday, March 3, and will feature music, comedy, films, virtual reality installations and discussion panels. An after-party event is planned for Saturday, March 4.

A concert and street fair in the downtown plaza will feature Hip Hop artist and activist Talib Kweli, and New Orleans funk/jazz/rock artist Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Other events will take place at downtown venues including the Civic Media Center, Hippodrome, High Dive and Loosey’s.

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Saving cypress: hit offending merchants where it hurts

by Francis E. “Jack” Putz

Despite overwhelming and long-standing evidence that clearcutting cypress trees to make landscape mulch is unsustainable, the practice is legally sanctioned and continues.

Given the published research results, letter writing campaigns, and other sorts of protests about this issue over the past decades, this situation is deplorable.

Government officials and buyers for the sustainability pledge endorsing “big-box” stores that continue to sell cypress mulch must recognize that the practice is unnecessarily destructive. Given the failure of previous campaigns to stop this plundering of nature, it’s time to ramp up efforts lest these iconic ecosystems continue to be destroyed.

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Chimera Fest: Bringing the fantastic to life


Kinetic sculptures are human-powered works of art, usally custom built for derbys and parades. Photo by William McCombie.

Chimera Fest, a celebration of creativity, innovation, art, making and culture in the Southeast, takes place from Friday, Feb. 24 through Sunday, Feb. 26.

• Artwalk: Menagerie in Motion Edition: Fri., 7-9 pm FREE

Gainesville’s Artwork, featuring an exclusive walking exhibit of the Menagerie in Motion Derby entrys through Depot Park.

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Is a home funeral for you?

by Dennis Shuman

In our Gainesville community, we are fortunate to have Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery which provides a natural or “green” burial choice. This type of burial uses biodegradable containers and avoids embalming fluids and vaults. The minimal fees are used to pay for land acquisition, protection, restoration and management of the area.

Just as we have the option of a “home birth” for entering this world, we have the option of having a “home funeral” prior to the “final disposition” of the body.

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