UMass Data Students Rub Elbows With Industry Leaders
Apr28

UMass Data Students Rub Elbows With Industry Leaders

Aditya Shastry of India had two years of statistics experience in the finance field, the start of what would have seemed a lucrative career. But he found his work limiting; he wanted to work on his own project.He applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst master’s degree program in data science.“Instead of learning in the industry specific programs where you have one model you develop, I wanted to get a broader...

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Suffocating in Silence: Winner of Valley Advocate Juniper Writing Scholarship puts displacement in its place
Apr24

Suffocating in Silence: Winner of Valley Advocate Juniper Writing Scholarship puts displacement in its place

For writer Elinam Agbo, words are like air.“If I go too long without expressing my thoughts in one way or another, I begin to feel suffocated and distant from my memories as well as my lived moments,” said Agbo, this year’s winner of the Valley Advocate’s Juniper Summer Writing Program scholarship at UMass Amherst.The Juniper program focuses on poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and is hosted by the UMass Master of Fine Arts program for...

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The Resistance is Just Getting Started: Today Science, Tomorrow (May  Day) Workers’ Rights
Apr24

The Resistance is Just Getting Started: Today Science, Tomorrow (May Day) Workers’ Rights

On a hill of gravelly mud in Kendrick Park — that little strip of grass in downtown Amherst flanked by Triangle and Pleasant streets — a family of protesters are passing around plastic instruments and bird masks in preparation for the March for Science.“Everyone got one?” the mother asks. “Just like we practiced.”And the big plastic band starts playing a buzzy, flatulent “When the Saints Go Marching In.”A man with a tambourine and a...

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Nuclear Activists Raise Concerns Over Vermont Yankee Quick Fix
Apr24

Nuclear Activists Raise Concerns Over Vermont Yankee Quick Fix

Over the last few months, a proposal to sell the now-closed Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant to a company called NorthStar has gotten some attention.Vermont Yankee shut down in 2014 and is in Vernon, a town at the southeastern corner of Vermont. Most of Franklin County in Massachusetts fell within the plant’s recently discontinued 10-mile evacuation zone.Entergy, which now owns the plant, had originally proposed completing the...

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Earth First and Last, a poem by Connolly Ryan
Apr24

Earth First and Last, a poem by Connolly Ryan

Earth First & Last Like children       in summertime,       our planet thrives on vivid evidence that there is always something to be. Unlike fools who amass acres by way of massacres, nature plants herself in one area and creates worlds around her. Earth itself (like birds and wisdom) feeds on uncertainty and sees death for what it is: the freedom to erode. — Connolly Ryan Connolly Ryan is a poet and senior lecturer at UMass Amherst...

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News of the Weird: SWAT Called on Homeless Intruder
Apr24

News of the Weird: SWAT Called on Homeless Intruder

A June 2016 police raid on David Jessen’s Fresno County (California) farmhouse caused a $150,000 mess when sheriff’s deputies and Clovis Police Department officers “rescued” it from a trespassing homeless man — with the massive destruction leading to Jessen’s lawsuit announced in March. The misdemeanant helped himself to an ice cream bar, some milk and half a tomato, but was otherwise “unarmed.” However, by the time the police...

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Eight Western Mass Towns Considering Fees for Carbon Emissions
Apr25

Eight Western Mass Towns Considering Fees for Carbon Emissions

This spring, voters in eight towns in Western Massachusetts may pass resolutions requiring fossil fuel companies to pay fees to its citizens.The resolutions are non-binding, so the votes will be more about sending a message than actually leveraging the fees, according to a statement from Ashfield Citizens’ Climate Lobby.The towns of Amherst, Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Plainfield, Shutesbury, and Whatley have all placed...

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Between the Lines: What Georgia’s Special Election Results Mean for 2018
Apr19

Between the Lines: What Georgia’s Special Election Results Mean for 2018

Democrat and political newcomer Jon Ossoff failed to capture Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District in the first round. But Tuesday’s special election results may give Democrats across the country hopes of recapturing the House in 2018 and thwarting the second half of Donald Trump’s term as president.Ossoff reached just above 48 percent of the vote; one vote above 50 percent would have earned him a seat right away....

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Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman speaks today at Mount Holyoke
Apr25

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman speaks today at Mount Holyoke

Amy Goodman, host of radio program Democracy Now!, will speak at Mount Holyoke College at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25.Goodman will speak at the Gamble Auditorium at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum about increased threats to freedom of the press and the importance of truly independent media to hold those in power accountable. She is also presenting her new book, “The Enemy is not the Enemy.”Doors open at 7 p.m. and...

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Baker gets a ‘C’ in environmental protection
Apr21

Baker gets a ‘C’ in environmental protection

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has been deemed mediocre – receiving a “C” for the second year in a row for its environmental policies and leadership, according to a report card from seven leading environmental organizations. “Unfortunately, once again we are seeing the Baker Administration fall short. From climate preparedness to toxic landfill emissions, there are serious challenges ahead for our state, and it’s critical...

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UMass student tries to combine online anonymity and positivity
Apr21

UMass student tries to combine online anonymity and positivity

The Internet has a problem, and that problem is that many of the people who use it are bullies and cowardly naysayers who hide behind their anonymity.On the other hand, Peter Tao, a junior and biochemistry major at UMass Amherst, is upbeat and positive to a fault. I am skeptical as I sit across from him at the Blue Wall when he tells me an iPhone app he developed called Spotlight is designed specifically to let people post photos...

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Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour to speak at UMass
Apr20

Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour to speak at UMass

In the age of President Trump, many people are stepping up to organize and counter the rising tide nationalism, xenophobia, racism and hate fueled far-right flirtations with Nazism. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American Muslim civil rights and racial justice activist who was one of the organizers for the Women’s March on Washington, is one such person.She’ll be speaking at UMass Amherst in Mahar Auditorium April 28 at 3:30...

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Garage Pop Band Hammydown to be Featured on Sessions this Friday
Apr19

Garage Pop Band Hammydown to be Featured on Sessions this Friday

Who is Hammydown?To see more come back Friday afternoon when we’ll post the full 20 minute concert and interview with Hammydown. Want more Sessions? Check out past performances from bands that include Mammal Dap, The Suitcase Junket, Mikey Sweet, Ray Mason, The Eavesdrop Trio, and Fancy Trash at...

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In wake of deadly fire, Holyoke expands alarm incentive program
Apr18

In wake of deadly fire, Holyoke expands alarm incentive program

It was a terrible way to start the New Year.Three people died and nearly 50 were displaced as a fire consumed the five-story building at 106 North East Street on January 1, 2017.Looking for a quick way to respond, the City of Holyoke has expanded its federally funded Rental Neighborhood Improvement Program to provide financial incentive to rental property owners to include more robust fire alarm systems.The program already provided...

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UMass Amherst starts new School of Earth and Sustainability
Apr18

UMass Amherst starts new School of Earth and Sustainability

UMass Amherst is getting a School of Earth and Sustainability and it will launch Wednesday, April 19.The keynote speaker at Wednesday’s event, which will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will be Yale law and psychology professor Dan Kahan. Other speakers are expected to include Secretary of Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Matt Beaton, UMass Amherst Provost Katherine S. Newman and Dean Steven Goodwin of the...

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Is Recreational Weed Coming to a Town Near You?
Apr18

Is Recreational Weed Coming to a Town Near You?

From the outside, 5 Appleton St. in Holyoke looks like any number of towering, brick artifacts from a time when Holyoke earned its unofficial title “The Paper City.” But looks can be deceiving. New life is being breathed into the 200,000 square-foot facility and that’s all due to recreational marijuana.Unlike some of the neighboring buildings, this 125-year-old mill, located in the downtown canal district, has been busy since starting...

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Is this World War III? Not yet
Apr17

Is this World War III? Not yet

A chemical weapons attack in Syria, a missile strike from the United States and worsening relations with Russia have made this month a serious pivot point in the protracted Syrian conflict.Is this the moment future historians will identify as the start to a new Cold War with Russia, the beginning of a larger U.S. intervention in Syria or even World War III? (Will there be any future historians at that point?) A short recap of what has...

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Between the Lines: A Packed 4/20 Issue
Apr18

Between the Lines: A Packed 4/20 Issue

Welcome, to this week’s jam-packed Advocate. We’ve got the winners of our annual Best of the Valley Readers’ Poll, 4/20-themed stories in celebration of Massachusetts’ first year of legal recreational weed, more about our new online Friday music concerts, Sessions, and news about what’s going on at the paper.First up: The Best Of the Valley Readers’ Poll is a who’s who and what’s what of all the top people, places, and businesses...

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Piecing together a new Northampton performance space
Apr17

Piecing together a new Northampton performance space

Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, April 17, Owen Wormser changed out of his flip-flops and donned work boots. Fitting pieces of stone together in the lot in front of Ghost Bread and across the street from the former Serio’s market, Wormser is polishing off a five-tiered amphitheater that will house workshops music and puppet shows by the time summer rolls around.The site has been regraded by hand and volunteers have already put in...

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From our Readers: hot haikus and science marches
Apr17

From our Readers: hot haikus and science marches

Hot HaikusIn response to our call on our Facebook page “It is in the 80s today. Someone write a haiku about the weather in the comments”, here’s a few entries from the community:Massachusetts spring No rhyme or reason to it Roller coaster ride— Frank GiulianoHot enough to swim Spring has only just started Be prepared for snow— Wil KingHey, now I can use all of these ice cubes in my refrigerator.— Corey Plucker  Not so Rattled by...

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News of the Weird: Swedish ‘Museum of Failures’ might succeed
Apr17

News of the Weird: Swedish ‘Museum of Failures’ might succeed

If at first you don’t succeed…Samuel West announced in April that his Museum of Failure will open in Helsingborg, Sweden, in June, to commemorate innovation missteps that might serve as inspiration for future successes. Among the initial exhibits: coffee-infused Coca-Cola; the Bic “For Her” pen (because women’s handwriting needs are surely unique); the Twitter Peek (a 2009 device that does nothing except send and receive...

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Valley Show Girl: Gimme, Gimme Noise Pollution, experimental night at The Root Cellar in Greenfield
Apr17

Valley Show Girl: Gimme, Gimme Noise Pollution, experimental night at The Root Cellar in Greenfield

After a full day of sitting inside a dankly weed-scented office — we did a photo shoot of some nuggets for this 4/20 issue — my first thought walking into The Root Cellar in Greenfield for an experimental show is “damn this place smells good” … and familiar. I’m fashionably late and, regrettably, miss the first set by Fully Glazed (Richie Records, Members of Watery Love). After ordering a well-deserved beer, I sit at the wooden...

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Jill Stein will speak at Smith Wednesday
Apr16

Jill Stein will speak at Smith Wednesday

Dr. Jill Stein, activist and third party presidential candidate extraordinaire, will speak at Smith College on Wednesday, April 19.The talk will take place from 7 to 9 at the Weinstein Auditorium and is free and open to the public.Stein was the Green-Rainbow Party presidential candidate in the 2012 and 2016 elections and has been, throughout her life, a notable and accomplished environmental activist. The public is welcome to come to...

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That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me
Apr14

That time Noam Chomsky scared the bejesus out of me

I had never read Noam Chomsky before or seen him speak, but I’d definitely heard about him over the years. Most recently when watching the movie “Captain Fantastic,” when the main characters — a super smart, back-to-the-land family — all celebrate “Chomsky Day” as if it was Christmas.There was a lot of hype for his talk at the UMass Amherst Mullins Center on Thursday night and the line to get in stretched well down the...

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Machakos Kyalo: Amherst rapper sending music, trees and hope back home
Apr10

Machakos Kyalo: Amherst rapper sending music, trees and hope back home

Machakos is a city and county in Kenya. It’s a beautiful place. The large palms, and safari grass are strong and bright, the blue sky dominates the flat and open landscape. But the beauty of Machakos can be deceiving: poverty is a struggle many people face. Because money and time means survival, there are few resources to invest in the arts. It’s not to say that Machakos doesn’t appreciate creativity, there just often isn’t the space...

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News of the Weird: The Jetsons in Dubai
Apr10

News of the Weird: The Jetsons in Dubai

Recently, in Dubai — the largest city in the United Arab Emirates — Dubai Civil Defense started using water jetpacks that lift firefighters off the ground to hover in advantageous positions as they work the hoses. Also, using jet skis, rescuers can avoid traffic altogether by using the city’s rivers to arrive at fires and, if close enough to a waterway, can pump water without hydrants. Even more spectacularly, as early as this summer,...

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April 13: Noam Chomsky at UMass Amherst
Apr10

April 13: Noam Chomsky at UMass Amherst

Close to NoamLeftist hero Noam Chomsky, now 88, has been around the block a few times, picking up new fields of expertise like normal people pick up groceries. He’s a world-renowned linguist, philosopher, author, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, analytic philosopher, political activist, and libertarian socialist who has written more than 100 books. His talk at UMass this week, sponsored by the Political Economy Research...

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BTL: How Democrats can get their Supreme Court Revenge
Apr10

BTL: How Democrats can get their Supreme Court Revenge

Thanks to Republican dirty tricks, Trump-nominee Neil Gorsuch has been confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. But a little-known political maneuver from the 1930s might be the Democrat’s ticket to wresting back Court control.Gorsuch will be seated on the court with 54 “Yea” votes, fewer than any justice except for Clarence Thomas, who got 52. Senate ‘Yes’ votes for Supreme Court nominees since JFK  The vote, which took...

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Down to Earth: Trump’s cuts to science are a knife to my heart
Apr10

Down to Earth: Trump’s cuts to science are a knife to my heart

We tell stories to know who we are. Speaking our own stories, we rediscover ourselves. And by hearing and identifying with one another’s journeys, we discover and reach each other, too.My world — my story — is one of science.I birdwatch. I teach students how to write about science. As a graduate student, I studied geology — the science of the vast, beautiful, complicated earth — then applied it as an environmental consultant helping...

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Letters to the Editor: ‘Achievers have been out bred and out voted’
Apr10

Letters to the Editor: ‘Achievers have been out bred and out voted’

Stay Home From SchoolBetter questions for the article (“Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Springfield reduces in-school arrests, but is it enough?”, March 30-April 5, 2017) would have been: Why were the students arrested? Did anyone do the same thing and were not arrested?We had children in schools when Dr. Peter Negroni was superintendent of Springfield schools [in the 1990s]. Crime in the schools was a regular occurrence. A...

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Between the Lines: Western Mass Needs More Rattlesnakes
Apr03

Between the Lines: Western Mass Needs More Rattlesnakes

No one knows how many timber rattlesnakes there are in Massachusetts — and this is a sticking point for opponents of a plan to boost the endangered species population.Does this species of venomous snakes really need saving? Over the past few years, state scientists and conservationists have been devising plans to increase the what they’re calling an “endangered” timber rattlesnake population by creating a breeding ground for the...

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‘Fat Feminist’ Lindy West, Author of Shrill, Reads in South Hadley Saturday
Apr03

‘Fat Feminist’ Lindy West, Author of Shrill, Reads in South Hadley Saturday

The word “shrill” makes some people want to instinctively cover their ears, but Lindy West decided to make it the title to her 2016 book Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman. The self-identified fat feminist will be reading from her book Saturday, 7 p.m., at the Hooker Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. The event is open to the public.West said she chose the word for her recently published book of personal essays because...

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Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem
Apr03

Back Talk: Weighing in on Boston’s Racism; and a Dumpty Trumpty poem

You Can’t Make an Omelette …Poem and illustration by Mary L. Rice, maryl.rice@yahoo.comIs Boston Super Racist?Readers weigh in on the question posed in a Between the Lines of the same name in the March 30-April 5, 2017. Via FacebookEvan H Gregg: “Beloved Boston?” This is Western Mass, kid. Only people from Boston love Boston around here. — Ben Easton: Well put, man! What grinds my gears is those stupid traffic message signs —...

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News of the Weird: TP Goes High Tech
Apr03

News of the Weird: TP Goes High Tech

China’s public-park restrooms have for years suffered toilet-paper theft by local residents who raid dispensers for their own homes — a cultural habit, wrote Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, expressing taxpayer feelings of “owning” public facilities — but the government recently fought back with technology. At Beijing’s popular Temple of Heaven park, dispensers now have facial-recognition scanners beside the six toilets, with...

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A Heartbeat (or Impeachment) Away from the Presidency: We went to VP Mike Pence’s hometown to learn about him
Mar27

A Heartbeat (or Impeachment) Away from the Presidency: We went to VP Mike Pence’s hometown to learn about him

COLUMBUS, Indiana — While Vice President Pence’s gubernatorial career earned national controversy, his hometown and closest friends vouch for his character. Columbus, Indiana, fits the image he presents: practical, family-oriented, and subject to change over the decades since his childhood there.In the late-1970s, Pence and his friends were the picture of midwestern adolescence: basketball camp, drive-ins, and revved-up cars. But for...

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