TECHNOLOGY: Apple vs. the FBI: Fight for access to terrorist’s smartphone pits privacy against public safety

The public fight between Apple Inc. and the U.S. Department of Justice over access to a dead terrorist’s locked iPhone has left smartphone owners conflicted about whether the never-ending battle against terrorism is worth subjecting their devices to privacy and security vulnerabilities. On Tuesday, a federal judge in California ordered the tech giant to help federal agents hack into the locked iPhone of a now-deceased perpetrator of a terrorist attack. Apple said the ruling threatens all customers’ privacy and security and vowed to fight it in court. Read the story.

 

Fairfield going to court over Time Warner fees

The town of Fairfield in central Maine is headed to court to try to get a federal district court judge to rule in its favor in a dispute over hundreds of thousands of dollars in back fees it says it is owed by Time Warner Cable Company. Fairfield sued Time Warner in October 2014, saying the cable company owed the town for franchise fees – a bill the company pays to use a city or town’s infrastructure – going back almost a decade. Fairfield is arguing that town councilors voted in 2005 to increase the franchise fee from 3 percent of basic cable revenues to 5 percent of gross revenues, which include things like pay-per-view channels, but the company had never paid those extra fees, paying only 5 percent of the basic cable revenue it collected. Read the story.

 

RETAIL: Maine doughnut makers not worried about Krispy Kreme expansion

North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., a company famous for its fiercely devoted customers, said Monday that it has signed a development agreement with franchisee NH Glazed LLC to open four shops in New Hampshire and three in Maine over the next several years. The franchise deal is consistent with Krispy Kreme’s stated mission of expanding in the Northeast, a region where it has very little presence. A previous expansion effort more than a decade ago was stalled when the publicly traded company ran into financial problems. Still, doughnut makers in Maine say they aren’t concerned about Krispy Kreme cutting into their sales when the large, national chain rolls into the state. Read the story.

 

E-commerce company Wayfair chooses Maine for new offices, 950 jobs

Wayfair, a Boston-based online home furnishing store, plans to open sales and customer service operations in Brunswick and Bangor, bringing 950 jobs to Maine. The company intends to hire 500 people to work in inside sales and service at a location at Brunswick Landing. That would make it the largest of 84 employers at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, where there are currently 850 workers. Wayfair plans to lease a 50,000-square-foot building from Priority Real Estate Group, which is in the process of buying it from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. Read the story.

 

Cook’s Corner shopping center in Brunswick sold

Cook’s Corner, a major shopping center in Brunswick, has been sold to a real estate investment firm for $13.2 million. New York-based Katz Properties bought the shopping center, which is 84 percent occupied. Katz has holdings in much of the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic and Florida. Read the story.

 

HEALTH CARE: Research at Bar Harbor lab could be used to reduce nerve pain

Research being conducted at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory could result in reduced nerve pain for cancer patients and potential treatment for other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and nerve damage caused by traumatic injuries. The Bar Harbor-based lab’s research was issued a “pending patent” status in January by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for two types of medications that could be used to reverse peripheral nerve damage that results from chemotherapy treatment in up to 40 percent of cancer patients. The pending patent means the research can move forward from studies involving zebrafish to human tissue samples and, hopefully, clinical research trials on humans. Read the story.

 

ENERGY: Natural gas storage seen as way to boost winter supply in Maine

Some lawmakers looking at Maine’s energy future say liquefied natural gas should be part of the equation. They want to give regulators the ability to reserve storage space in yet-to-be-built tanks to smooth over supply problems in cold winter months. A legislative panel on Thursday expressed strong support for a bill to create the program. The tanks would be located near existing gas pipelines. Gas would be removed from the line when prices are lower and stored in liquid form. The liquefied natural gas would then be converted back to gas in winter, when prices spike. The gas could be used by manufacturers and power companies. Ratepayers would have to back a contract for reserved space in the tanks. Read the story.

 

As solar power grows in Maine, so does tension over its future shape and direction

If Maine utilities have their way, the future of solar energy in Maine will be dominated by a limited number of large-scale projects feeding substantial amounts of power into the electric grid. The solar installation industry, on the other hand, envisions a decentralized future in which the grid draws power from thousands of small installations on homes, businesses or shared community sites. Which vision gains an advantage may be determined this year as the Legislature grapples with the question of how to compensate homes and small businesses that generate power when the sun shines, but depend on utility companies when it doesn’t. The outcome is likely to influence the pace of solar development in Maine, which is at a pivotal point as falling equipment prices begin to make solar competitive with fossil fuels. Read the story.

 

TRANSPORTATION: Nova Star has new gig ferrying passengers across Strait of Gibraltar

The Nova Star ferry, which had two unsuccessful seasons carrying passengers between Maine and Nova Scotia, has a new job moving people across the Strait of Gibraltar. Inter Shipping, a company that operates ferries connecting Morocco with Spain, is chartering the Nova Star from its owner, ST Marine, according to the trade publication Shippax. The Nova Star will make crossings between Algeciras, Spain, and Tangier, Morocco. The route is popular among North African workers, particularly during Ramadan, a monthlong Muslim holiday. Read the story.

Maine’s average gasoline prices continue to decline

Maine’s statewide average of retail gasoline prices declined another 5.9 cents per gallon over the past week, to $1.79 per gallon, according to surveys by price tracking website GasBuddy.com. The week’s prices stood 47.3 cents per gallon lower than the average price on Feb. 15, 2015, and 21.9 cents lower than prices a month ago. Gasoline prices in New Hampshire posted a smaller week-to-week decline of 4.7 cents, to a statewide average of $1.71 per gallon. Analysts warned that seasonal supply and demand factors arriving with warmer weather are likely to end the winter’s long slide in prices. Read the story.