ORONO, Maine: Earth Day zooms in on global warming

Tree and flower plantings, bike giveaways, community clean-ups, picnics and fairs have been part of Earth Day since its beginning in 1970, but this year, showings of the film “An Inconvenient Truth” in hundreds of towns marked the first time global warming received significant attention. The full day of events here, April 22, mirroring hundreds of others from Houston to Seattle, combined booths and traditional bike rides across the U of Maine campus but ended with a showing of the film followed by a discussion led by scientists from the university’s Climate Change Institute.

In Rockford, Ill., nearly 3,000 flowed through Rock Valley College for the Earth Day celebration, which, in addition to providing 600 free trees, featured continuous showings of “An Inconvenient Truth” plus scientific presentations on global warming.

In Birmingham, Ala., “Auntie Litter” led an Earth Day parade of tens of thousands of public school students with skits and student projects on climate change.

The Orlando, Fla., Catholic Diocese kicked off Earth Day with a community hearing on the impact of global warming on low-wage workers. Deborah Stafford Shearer, director of the diocese Respect Life Office, said, “We can no longer as the Catholic community or any other church community deny that this [global warming] is an issue.”

Paramount Studios announced that free DVDs of “An Inconvenient Truth” are available to high schools: www.paramount.com/aitschools.

ASHBURN, Ga.: High school holds first integrated prom

When the school year started, four senior class officers, two African American and two white, asked principal Chad Stone to break with the school’s segregated tradition of separate proms for white and Black students and hold an all-school prom. Stone agreed and on April 21, horse-drawn carriages and stretch limousines chauffeured Black and white students to the town auditorium for the “Breakaway” prom.

“Everybody says that’s just how it’s always been,” said Turner County High School senior class president James Hall, 17. “It’s just the way of this very small town [population, 4,000]. But it’s time for a change.” Hall is African-American.

The weekend before the prom some white students still held their own party, but nearly 70 percent of students danced together at the official prom.

“Last weekend was more like tradition,” said Calvin Catom, a white senior on his way into the all-school prom. “It wasn’t racist or prejudice. This weekend is about the whole school getting together and having a party.”

The Class of 2007 broke another barrier earlier in the year when they elected a solo homecoming queen. Previously two queens, one African-American and one white, had been elected.

A candy packaging factory and peanut farming sustains Turner County.

ORLANDO, Fla.: Man arrested for feeding the hungry

The city that supports Disney World and Universal Studios amusement parks, has decided that feeding the growing number of homeless families in a public park is a crime. Police arrested Eric Montanez, 21, April 4, after undercover cops filmed him ladling out stew to about 30 homeless men and women in downtown Lake Eola Park. Police handcuffed Montanez and took him to jail, setting bail at $250. They confiscated the stew pot as evidence.

“This has been a truly disgusting day,” said George Crossley, local American Civil Liberties Union chapter president. The ACLU has filed suit challenging a city ordinance restricting public feeding to 25 people or less.

Police have photographed volunteers from Food Not Bombs, CodePink and the Young Communist League providing stew, rice, salad and bread pudding to hungry people, and have ticketed volunteers’ cars. The arrest was the first.

Jonathan Giralt, 16, a volunteer who was standing next to Montanez when he was arrested, said, “I was like OK, this guy is going to be arrested for absolutely nothing. It makes me feel unsafe.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @ aol.com).