In The News: Time Magazine Honors Ebola Survivors, Doctors; New Gambling Report Doubles Florida Casino Impact; St. Johns County Woman Charged With Grand Theft, Fraud

By on December 10th, 2014 | Last updated: December 10, 2014 at 10:20 am
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Protesters In “Black Lives Matter” March Move For Inconvenience And Justice

By on December 9th, 2014 | Last updated: December 9, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Hundreds of people blocked off traffic at the intersection of University Avenue and 13th Street in Gainesville on Monday evening.

This is the first time this intersection has been shut down since 1972, according to Nailah Summers, protest organizer.

At 4:15 p.m., protestors gathered for a #BLACKLIVESMATTER March at the Martin Luther King Memorial Garden in downtown Gainesville, across from Bo Diddley Plaza.

Protestors, many of whom wore all black clothing and carried signs, walked about a mile from downtown to the intersection of University and 13th, blocking all west-bound traffic with their march.

The march was organized by the Dream Defenders and the University of Florida Students for a Democratic Society.

Brittany King, a Santa Fe junior and one of the march organizers, said that the march was about fighting the system.

“The purpose of the march was to have a sense of awakening here in Gainesville,” King said. “There’s a resounding ideal that things like this don’t affect this town.”

Gainesville’s Mayor Ed Braddy said 150 people initially turned out for the protest, but that number quickly grew to 200 as they marched down University Ave. singing and chanting phrases like, “I can’t breathe!,” “Black lives matter!”, and “No justice, no peace!”

Once the group reached the intersection, they blocked all four directions of traffic for 11 minutes—one minute for each time Eric Garner told the police that he could not breathe.

While the group did not notify the police about the event prior to the march, officers did show up as the group was gathering at the memorial gardens. Officers asked if the group wanted their help blocking off the street. One police car tailed the marchers, and others diverted traffic from the intersection.

One attendee, Alvarez Tarver, a St. Augustine resident who drove to Gainesville for the event, said that she came to the march prepared to get arrested and found the police presence to be peaceful, which had a negative effect on the march.

“I found that the action felt a bit domesticated,” Tarver said. “I felt like the cops allowed us to be there, whereas, speaking for myself obviously, I felt like the intention was to shut it down.”

Tarver also said that she was prepared to be an inconvenience during the march; she was prepared for someone to honk their horn at her.

Gainesville Police Dept. spokesman Ben Tobias said that he and the rest of the police department understand that these events come with heavy emotions and it is their responsibility to allow these emotions to be demonstrated.

“As a professional agency, we must protect and serve everyone, and allow others to protest peacefully,” said Tobias. Moreover, “it is our responsibility to give anyone and everyone a fair and even chance to protest as stated by their first amendment rights.”

Kayla Coleman, a Gainesville resident, agreed that she came to the march to inconvenience people.

“Black people being killed every day is an inconvenience to our lives,” Coleman said.

“Black people being on the lookout every day for police, being followed in stores, that is an inconvenience to our lives,” she said. “I was coming into that space with an attorney to be contacted, knowing that I might have to spend some hours in prison if that’s what it takes.”

Coleman also mentioned the diversity of people in attendance at the march and said that it is important to build a “coalition of all sorts of people.”

King said that the movement is gaining momentum and that people should expect more demonstrations. She said there’s a great opportunity for the communities in Gainesville to get involved.

“We can mobilize. We can get people involved. We can get them active,” King said.

“It’s about waking them up to the matter that this should be important to you. These are lives,” she said. “People’s lives should be important to you.”

After 11 minutes in the intersection, protestors moved to a nearby vacant lot. They ended the demonstration in a big, closed circle, chanting, “We have the duty to fight! We have the duty to win! We have the duty to love and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

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In the News: Protests Sprawl down University, Gainesville Race Seeks Alcohol Sales, Hunting Rifle Silencers Disputed, SeaWorld Sails to Court

By on December 9th, 2014 | Last updated: December 9, 2014 at 9:20 am
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In The News: Gainesville Man Holds Woman Captive, Court Martial Begins In Clearwater, Bush Refutes C.I.A. Report Claims, Historical Miami Shooting Sets Modern Precedent

By on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm
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UF Welcomes McElwain At Press Conference Saturday

By on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm


Jim McElwain, UF’s new head football coach, introduced himself and his family during a live-streamed press conference Saturday. He spoke about his offensive style and eagerness to get to know his players.

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In The News: Obama Suffers From Acid Reflux, Cali. Demonstration Grows Violent, Two South Florida Republicans Seek Re-election, Underage Rape Suspects Named

By and on December 8th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 12:39 pm



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New UF Football Coach Jim McElwain Welcomed at Press Conference

By and on December 6th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm
Jim McElwain, the new UF head football coach, said he is looking forward to being involved in his players' lives during his press conference on Saturday, Dec.6.

Justin Galicz

Jim McElwain, the new UF head football coach, said he is looking forward to being involved in his players' lives during his press conference on Saturday, Dec.6.

For the first time as new head football coach at the University of Florida, Jim McElwain spoke at a press conference Saturday about what he will bring to the program, particularly about his offensive strategy and background.

Current UF president Bernie Machen took the stage first to welcome McElwain to the team.

“We have found a coach who we believe is exactly the right coach to lead us into the next era of Gator football,” said Machen.

“We spent a lot of hours researching and at the end of the day, Jim’s name kept coming up” said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, who had spent several days in Fort Collins this week finalizing the details on McElwain’s negotiations to leave Colorado State University and come to UF.

“He’s a winner and we are excited to have him and his family as Gators.”

McElwain, dressed in an orange tie and joined by his wife, Karen and their three children, expressed how excited he is to be a Gator and how he hopes to bring his experiences and coaching skills to the football team in a school that he says is known for its “tradition of winning.” “The first time I was actually in this state recruiting, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a Gator,” McElwain said.

McElwain spoke about how he wants to get the football offense up to game-winning standards, which was one of the qualities UF had been looking for in a coach. “They’ve got good coaches here, it just didn’t work…. It takes three faces. It isn’t just offense, it isn’t just defense, and it isn’t just special teams.”

McElwain said that he welcomes the atmosphere of pressure that comes with the position. “The one thing that I love is pressure. Now, I never look at it as feeling the pressure, I look at it as applying pressure and I’m excited about that part of it,” said McElwain. “If there’s no pressure, why wake up in the morning? That’s really what drives me anyway.”

McElwain said that he wants to produce a team that wins and wants the players to succeed. McElwain even joked that he can even win with his dog, Clara-A-Belle as quarterback, a comment that quickly garnered attention on social media.

McElwain said he has already met with the entire football staff to talk about new recruits for the next season and will be meeting with the players Monday. He plans to tell the team to “embrace what they’re doing. You’re Gators. Go win a bowl game.”

He said he does not have a timeline for hiring a new coaching staff but that his priority is finding a staff that is the best fit.

“I’m proud to be a Gator, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

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Pictures: Tacky Sweater Holiday 5K

By on December 6th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 3:02 pm

In the spirit of the holiday season, the University of Florida College of Medicine held a Tacky Sweater Holiday 5K on the UF campus Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014, at 8 a.m. UF students and residents of Gainesville and other nearby communities gathered for the event to run or walk the 3.1 miles in their most spirited holiday attire. Students from the UF College of Medicine volunteered to help with the event, some participating in the race. The overall winner of the 5K was 16-year-old Ryan Lauzardo of Gainesville High School, and the first place female was 21-year-old UF physical therapy doctoral student Abby Garner. The event was held to raise awareness and funding for the UF College of Medicine medical outreach trips. Each year, students travel to places like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador and Nicaragua to provide free medical healthcare, health and hygiene education and medication.

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Afternoon News in 90: Dec. 5, 2014

By and on December 5th, 2014 | Last updated: December 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Melissa Walpole produced this update.

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Solution Found For Disease Threatening Avocado Production

By on December 5th, 2014 | Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm
The redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, killed by a fungus founded by a team of UF researchers in order to stop the spread of laurel wilt, a disease that kills several tree species.

The redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, killed by a fungus founded by a team of UF researchers in order to stop the spread of laurel wilt, a disease that kills several tree species. Photo by Tropical Research and Education Center

Researchers have found what could be the first biological control strategy against a beetle that is threatening Florida’s avocado industry.

Laurel wilt, a disease transmitted by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle, threatens the state’s $54 million-a-year avocado industry, according to a University of Florida press release.

UF scientists collaborated with other researchers from the Tropical Research and Education Center (TREC), USDA and the Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce to propose an alternative method of using a fungi rather than insecticides to manage the threat.

“(The strategy) is giving the growers more tools to manage the problem,” said Daniel Carrillo, an entomology research assistant professor at the TREC in Homestead. “(Insecticides) are just one tool more to try to control the problem.”

The biological control strategy could help growers use less insecticide. Insecticides are chemicals that can be toxic to both animals and humans.

“When you are dealing with a pest, you try to have an integrated approach,” said Carrillo. “We have multiple tactics, not just one. You have to try to use them all.”

Laurel wilt is responsible for spreading and killing many bay trees that are, or were, abundant in Florida. Specifically, trees of the Lauraceae family, which includes avocados. The fungus affects the beetles, not the laurel wilt disease itself.

“What we’re trying to do is develop a biological tactic that is environmentally sound,” he said. “We’re trying to control the beetles that are spreading the disease.”

Florida produced 30,700 tons of avocados just in 2013 that totaled to $24,437,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“What we are proposing is to use a biological control strategy (fungi) that attacks the insects,” said Carrillo. “They’re less harmful to other organisms and do not infect humans, so they’re more environmentally friendly.”

Carrillo said the controlled fungus may be applied to the trees with the idea that the beetles come in contact with it, get infected and are ultimately killed without harming the environment.

Jonathan Crane, a tropical fruit crop specialist for the Department of Horticultural Sciences, is familiar with the project and worked with the collaborators on the strategy. Crane said this is one of many strategies being investigated.

“There’s a two-pronged approach,” he said. “There’s controlling the disease — the fungus — and there’s controlling the beetles that spread the fungus.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam addressed the concern of laurel wilt in a commercial avocado grove after it was found in Miami-Dade County in 2012, according to a press release.

“Unaddressed, the disease can spread quickly, threatening the health of South Florida’s commercial avocado industry,” Putnam said.

Carrillo said neighboring and surrounding trees or groves to any initial infected tree would also get infected if the disease was not controlled and managed in a timely manner.

Researchers have not only recently identified a control strategy for this non-native beetle, but they’ve also discovered that native types of ambrosia beetles are also capable of carrying the pathogen and transmitting the disease.

“The issue is more complex. We’re not dealing with just one species; we’re dealing with multiple species,” said Carrillo. “Now what were trying to do is figure out how to apply (the strategy) in a commercial setting.”

Until the strategy is commercially implemented, researchers have put together a set of recommendations for growers to help prevent the spread of laurel wilt and the redbay ambrosia beetle on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.

Editor’s note: This update corrects an earlier version of the story.

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