1,500 Acres Saved

Fifteen hundred acres of forestland has been protected from development in Holyoke and West Springfield. “The deal will be completed on or around April 22. I am certain it will go through,” Bob Wilbur told the Valley Post in a voice phone interview on January 13. He is director of land conservation for MassAudubon. A map of the land is at:

https://www.massaudubon.org/our-conservation-work/land-conservation/urge...

Photos of the land are below. To enlarge a photo click on it, then scroll down and click “see full size image.” Photos by MassAudobon.

The USA is losing 6,000 acres of open space to development every day. Local, state, and federal politicians decide how much to tax rich people, and how much money to invest in protecting forests and farmland from being turned into paved parking lots or other forms of development.

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On January 11 in Northampton and Greenfield a total of about 32 people marched to call on Biden to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “Both marches were great,” Paki Wieland told the Valley Post in a voice phone interview. “There are still 40 men incarcerated at Guantanamo.” March organizers have a web site at www.NoGitmos.org.

Asked if the military budget is likely to be cut now that Democrats control congress and the white house, Wieland said “Biden and the Democrats in congress are supported by military contractor corporations. So they won't cut the military budget. It's up to the people to do it.”

With 4 percent of the world's population, the USA today spends as much on war as the rest of the world combined. In 2019, the USA spent $1.6 trillion on war. That was 47 percent of the federal budget, meaning about half your income taxes went to war that year.

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On January 9 in Greenfield, 28 people attended a Black Lives Matter rally, organizer Emily Greene said.

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On January 6 in Holyoke 11 people attended a rally to protest Trump's decision to allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Caribou, cod, snow geese, polar bears, and subsistence for the Gwich'in and Iñupiaq people who have stewarded the land there for thousands of years will be destroyed,” according to an email form the rally organizers. The organizers have a web site at www.WendellForest.org.

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In Springfield police are investigating whether a December 28, 2020 fire at an African American church was arson by a racist white person. A 2008 fire at a different African American church in Springfield was arson by racist white men. Tanisha Arena runs a group that has a web site at www.AriseSpringfield.org. On January 10, 2021 she told the Valley Post, “Church burning in the black community isn’t something new in this country and it has been used to send very clear messages of harm in a place that should be safe for all people. A house of worship. White supremacists/nationalists resort to this kind of violence and intimidation. It’s a reflection of the abusive values of white supremacy.”

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The Brattleboro select board is considering making changes to the town's police department, following Black Lives Matter protests in town last year. According to the "Community Safety Review Final Report," which was released last month and is on the home page of the town web site, on April 4, 2014, a Brattleboro police officer shot and killed 35-year-old Brattleboro resident Michael Santiago, who was unarmed. Santiago was a person of color.

Brattleboro is home to 11,000 people. All of Brattleboro's 20 or so police officers are white. About 20 percent of students in Brattleboro's public schools are people of color. Vermont has the second lowest violent crime rate in the nation. (Maine is lowest.) A Vermont group that works to fix the police has a web site at www.acluVT.org.

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Troy, New Hampshire is five miles from Massachusetts and 13 miles from Vermont. Troy's police chief attended the riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. Five people died. Troy's chief has not been punished. Nonviolent climate protesters have been fined and jailed in the Pioneer Valley.

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