Category Archives: September 2021

UF GAU, UFF demand COVID-19 safety protocols

by Bryn Taylor, UF-Graduate Assistants United Communications Chair

Almost 12,000 new students arrived on campus in late August with 32,329 active COVID-19 cases in Alachua County. 

UF expected faculty, staff, and graduate assistants to teach in-person, full-capacity classes with no university policies to enforce any kind of health and safety protocol. GAU and UFF rallied outside Tigert Hall and listed the following demands:

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Things to do

  • Julie Naim, a master gardener, will present a talk on “Welcoming Winter: Cool Season Vegetable Gardening in Florida.” Sunday Assembly, Sept. 19, 11am. The in-person meeting will be at the Pride Center (3131 NW 13th St) and masks are required if not fully vaccinated.
  • Looking to leave the house and find things to do? The City of Gainesville hosts an award winning weekly events page of things going on. 
  • This is one of the smartest daily reads out there. Great analysis and observations from a historian. No bs, no hype. Read it.

WGOT says ‘thank you’

by Chris Lake, WGOT Board Member

As a small local non-profit we can’t thank our supporters enough. WGOT has the best listeners in and outside Gainesville. More than ever we need your support as fundraising during the Covid era increasingly becomes more challenging. WGOT is used to having several live fundraisers each year, including an annual birthday celebration featuring several of the best local bands in Alachua County. 

Unfortunately, those days seem long ago. Plus, the Delta Variant is cause for concern regarding our ability to fundraise heading into 2022 and beyond. So how can you help WGOT?

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History and the people who make it: Madelyn Lockhart

Transcript edited by Adolfho Romero. This is an except from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program – 325UF collection series. 

Madelyn Lockhart was a researcher who worked on creating a more inclusive and diverse community in Gainesville. At the University of Florida, Dr. Lockhart served as Dean of the Graduate School, Dean of International Studies and Programs, Associate Dean, and Assistant Dean. She helped establish the Altrusa International organization in Gainesville. She passed away in 2015. Dr. Madelyn Lockhart [L] was interviewed by Paul Ortiz [O] on December 5, 2008.

O: Well, today we are with Dr. Madelyn Lockhart … You’re interested in talking about your early career at the University of Florida, and what the university was like.

L: Okay, I came here in the fall of 1958. I came because my husband had a job offer here at the University of Florida. I was finishing my PhD at Ohio State University. I had one child who was three years old and a baby.

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Civic Media Center update

by Joe Courter

Well, the optimism about reopening in August that we reported in July has been dialed back, due to the rise of the Covid 19 Delta variant. However, we are still hosting in-person volunteer meetings outside in the Courtyard on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 5:30pm. Details can be found at our LinkTree: Masking and distancing are required. LinkTree can also hook you up with our biweekly email newsletter.

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Gail Johnson steps down

Election to fill City Commission post expected soon

by Joe Courter

“After a lot of thought, prayer and conversations with trusted friends, family and mentors, I have decided to resign from my position as Commissioner for the City of Gainesville.

“The collective good has always been the reason why I do this job, and I believe the reason that I am here is to advocate for those most underserved by local government.

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Blood, dope, and guns: Our Afghanistan addiction

by James Thompson

Afghanistan may be hard to find on a map, but each day its opium poppies provide the vast majority of heroin to Europe and the world. While the United States draws its supply largely from Mexico, our imperial endeavors implicate us deeply in the Afghan heroin trade. 

Without the economic “stability” and payoffs to corrupt governments and warlords that opium poppy farming supplies, neither the Taliban, nor Raytheon, nor Boeing, nor the U.S. sponsored Karzai government would have been able to operate the giant money laundering business that Afghanistan has been for the last twenty years. 

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Ichetucknee Alliance launches new “Beloved Blue River” website

by Ichetucknee Alliance

The Ichetucknee Alliance has launched a new website, “Ichetucknee: Beloved Blue River,” that documents what the springs and river have meant to people over the years. The site may be viewed at:

“The new site includes articles by experts on geology, hydrogeology, and springs ecosystems; stories and memories from people who have spent time at the Ichetucknee; and art, photography, poems, and music that have been inspired by the springs and the river,” explained Ichetucknee Alliance President John Jopling. “We hope that when you visit the site, you’ll come away not only having learned something new, but also entertained and inspired.”

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From the publisher… On leaving Afghanistan

There is such a deep and complex history to Afghanistan and its surrounding region of ancient civilizations that the more you know about it, the more tragic it becomes. How we got to this point, with harrowing airport images as the US clumsily tries to extract itself, goes back many decades, decades full of important events that are receiving scant mention in the coverage. In this issue we are running three articles that bring forth different aspects, because to understand Afghanistan in the last 40 years you find out a lot about how games are played by the rich and powerful to exploit the weak in order to gain influence, power, and, the real driving force, control of resources. (Three more choice suggestions in the editors’ picks on page 13, too.)

My college time (’69-’73) was focused on the Viet Nam war. With the Iranian hostage crisis and the overthrow of the Shah in the late ’70s, my attention drifted there. Islamic fundamentalism had seized power. Religious fundamentalists, wherever they are, cause me great concern. As a secular person I have always been wary of wars (not to mention social policies) whose underpinnings were justified in dogmatic religion. When I saw the US begin supporting the mujaheddin in Afghanistan under Reagan (and subsequently learned it began under Carter!), my bells were going off.

And now here we are. I just re-read the book Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid, published in 2000. I recommend it highly; it is still very relevant. It deeply covers the twin dynamics of conflicts between the various warlords the US helped empower against the Soviets, and the international struggles for alliances to support oil and gas pipelines crossing Afghan territory. The ’90s also saw the rise of the poppy economy after the agriculture economy was wrecked in that war. Also there are the shifting roles of neighboring nations, Pakistan of course, but also Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, among others. Rashid has recently commented there’s not much changed with the Taliban 20 years later, but we can only hope their toned-down rhetoric holds.  

What we have now is a shattered, war-torn nation desperately in need of funding, about to be economically tortured by withheld financing and aid, while we, the ones who brought and sustained a decades’ long stalemated war through multiple administrations, go home. And today, the CNN headline: “The Taliban are sitting on $1 trillion worth of minerals the world desperately needs.”  

I cannot fathom the anguish being felt by so many. The soldiers who went and suffered through it, and still carry that pain inside. Those who were wounded; remember, their families suffer as well. And of course those for whom their loved one didn’t come back. For what? And then there are the many endangered Afghans who worked as soldiers or translators or helpers for the US, and who are in the hearts and memories of those they worked with. And of course, the women who have made progress after the repression of the past decades now facing an uncertain future. 

The August 21 front-page headline of The Economist reads, “Biden’s Debacle.” This longrunning debacle has many owners. I feel it goes back to the 1953 CIA overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, which helped set off the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. First Carter, and then Reagan’s full-blown military aid empowering the warlords, against whom the Taliban formed. Bill Clinton continuing the money and weapons flow while pursuing gas and oil pipelines. George W. Bush deserves huge blame for his war of choice in Iraq in 2003, putting his efforts there and thus accepting the stalemate in Afghanistan. Obama was fine with night raids and drone strikes, even after killing Bin Laden. Trump freed 5,000 Taliban prisoners while negotiating a “we will leave, don’t shoot at us” plan with the Taliban, and then blocking the paperwork of Afghan allies who wanted out, compounding the mess we are seeing.

As we reach the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, I am reminded of a rhetorical question raised at the time: “Why do they hate us?” I think W. may have responded, “They hate us for our freedoms.” Yeah; that freedom to overthrow governments, to impose draconian economic sanctions, to carry on wars by proxy, to put claims on other nations’ resources, to put military bases all over the world, to be supportive of dictators who repress their own people. You know what? I hate that stuff too. How about you?

Pine Ridge Community update: children’s backpacks, food needed

by Sheila Payne, Alachua County Labor Coalition

The Alachua County Labor Coalition has been speaking with residents at Pine Ridge in Gainesville to see if their housing situation is stable. The rent has not increased yet, and the assumption by residents is that until major renovations are done to the units, rent will stay the same. 

Only one resident has left, previously planned, to move into a house. 

A construction contractor flew out from Texas again this week to estimate the costs of renovations to each apartment. Residents who need little work done will be allowed, if they desire, to remain in units while renovations are going on. Or residents can stay with family or friends and belongings will be put into PODS. 

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Resource for good with Repurpose Project

by Jon Wolfe, Repurpose Project Volunteer

The Repurpose Project is a non-profit community based effort to divert useful resources from the landfill, redirect these items to the public for art and education, inspire creativity, and help us all rethink what we throw away.

Beware. A visit to their site at 1920 NE 23rd Ave. in Gainesville can turn you into an earth-friendly Indiana Jones. From the second you pull on the door handles made out of used tools, you’ll know you’re in a special place where your exploration can easily turn into an adventure and time will slow down quickly.

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20 years ago… Reflection on 9/11/2001

Amid the immediate reactions to the shock of the 9/11/01 attacks, there were many folks on the Left who could see what might be coming down the road ahead. 

The prospect of a wounded nation lashing out with the unleashed war-making capability, and the government’s tendency to look for scapegoats and suppress dissent loomed large. The Sept/Oct 2001 edition was just about ready for the printer when the planes hit, but we made room for the following story. 

The next edition of the Iguana, Nov/Dec 2001, was a 32-page special edition that garnered the 2002 “Best 9-11 Coverage” award from the Campus Alternative Journalism Project and Independent Press Association. Archives of these and other back issues are available at

• • •

Sept/Oct 2001 as we went to press …

We had just about finished preparing this issue of the Iguana to go to the printer when we heard the news of the tragedy at the World Trade Center. We still don’t know even roughly the number of lives lost.

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September 2021 Gainesville Iguana

The September issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.