The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » News Tue, 25 Oct 2016 01:32:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola settles lawsuit Tue, 25 Oct 2016 01:31:28 +0000 DALLAS — A nurse who contracted Ebola two years ago while caring for the first person to be diagnosed in the U.S. with the disease settled a lawsuit Monday against the parent company of the Dallas hospital where she worked.

Attorneys for Nina Pham announced the settlement with Texas Health Resources. They and the company said in a joint statement that terms will not be disclosed.

Pham contracted Ebola in the fall of 2014 while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

In her lawsuit, Pham said the “sum total” of information she was given to protect herself after being told she would be treating a patient suspected of having Ebola was “what her manager ‘Googled’ and printed out from the Internet.”

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Average increase of 25 percent projected for insurance under Affordable Care Act Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:51:18 +0000 Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the increase for this year, according to new government figures.

The spike in average rates for the 38 states, including Maine, that rely on the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act was announced by federal health officials on Monday. The figures serve broadly to confirm what has become evident piecemeal in recent months: Prompted by a burden of unexpectedly sick ACA customers, some insurers are dropping out while many remaining companies are struggling to cover their costs.

In disclosing the 2017 rates, officials played down the impact of higher prices on consumers. They said that more than eight in 10 consumers will qualify for ACA subsidies that will cushion them from sticker shock. And they noted that as premiums go up, more Americans will be eligible for the tax credits.

As in previous years, the officials stressed that, if current customers shop around, many will find coverage that is less expensive than what they have. With subsidies, more than three-quarters of customers will be able to find a health plan next year for which they pay $100 or less in monthly premiums, according to the new data. People who have ACA coverage tend to qualify for relatively large tax credits because their incomes tend to skew low.

The portrait of rates and availability of health plans in the law’s marketplaces has become an annual ritual since the exchanges began selling insurance during fall 2013. Next week, the marketplaces will open for their fourth sign-up season, and the Obama administration is predicting that 11.4 million people will pick health plans by the end of January – about 1 million more than the number of Americans with such coverage now.

The steep increase of 25 percent is the average for the health plans on which the ACA’s tax credits are based each year – the policy in each part of the country that has the second-lowest rate among plans offering a “silver” tier of coverage. In a conference call with reporters, two Department of Health and Human Services officials did not mention that percentage.

An accompanying HHS research brief containing the overall patterns and state-level data also shows that health plan options are dwindling, although almost all ACA shoppers will have some choice of plans for 2017.

Among the states relying on, the typical number of plans available is declining by more than one-third, from 47 to 30. Competition is falling in all but four of those states, though the decrease varies significantly. In Florida, the average marketplace customer will have three more plan choices than for this year. In Arizona, the number of plans will plummet from 65 to four.

And 21 percent of the customers shopping in the federal exchange will find only one insurance company, compared with 2 percent for 2016.

In a statement accompanying the new data, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that insurers are “continuing to adapt” to a new market in which they must compete for customers based on their price and quality, rather than freezing out people with medical conditions. Burwell said that premiums have been influenced by “efforts to undermine the ACA,” including a decision by the Republican-led Congress to block money intended to help buffer insurers with high-cost customers.

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Agency provides guidance to automakers for building hacking defenses into vehicles Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:45:49 +0000 Less than a week after one of the most massive cyberattacks in U.S. history, federal officials want to ensure that hackers won’t be able to invade the computers that increasingly control automobiles.

Guidelines issued for automakers and developers Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledge that protecting increasingly autonomous cars from cyberattack will be an ongoing battle.

“In the constantly changing environment of technology and cybersecurity, no single or static approach is sufficient,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement released with the new guidance. “Everyone involved must keep moving, adapting and improving to stay ahead of the bad guys.”

The NHTSA guidance suggests a layered series of protections that will prevent a vehicle from misbehaving, even when its cyber defenses are penetrated. The goal of the guidance is to make sure cybersecurity is a key part of designing cars in a world where hackers and foreign powers are all hungry to reach into whatever electronic realm they can, for fun, profit or strategic advantage.

The motives of hackers are as varied as their goals. For some, it’s simply to overcome cyber barriers that are established to thwart them. For others, it could be to disrupt the U.S. transportation system.

“It’s like building a 10-foot wall, and somebody builds an 11-foot ladder,” said Paul Brubaker, chairman of the recently formed Alliance for Transportation Innovation.

That said, there are myriad ways to keep hackers from taking control of cars, according to Brubaker. Some of it should be adapted from the military and intelligence communities, areas with which he became familiar when serving as a deputy assistant secretary of defense.

“The knowledge exists to provide state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection to the fleet,” Brubaker said. “The question is, will the industry lean into their discomfort and embrace it.”

One challenge is simply defining “the industry.”

The players who are developing semi-autonomous and truly driverless vehicles range from Google, which has vast experience in defending against hackers, to traditional automakers, whose focus has been more on selling cars than fending off cyberattacks.

“I think the department has given industry an excellent opportunity to step up to the plate,” Brubaker said. “I’d like to see some input from folks who are working in the software-defined network world as well as the software-defined radio world to help the department develop some more refined guidance.”

The cyber world had a sobering moment last year when two researchers successfully hacked into a Jeep Cherokee, disabling the brakes and transmission to demonstrate the vehicle’s vulnerability. They entered the car electronically through its self-parallel parking feature. Chrysler later issued a software patch to fix the flaw.

Just as federal officials put up out-sized planters around government buildings to prevent attacks, and Internet companies have invested in ways to counter hackers, the goal of the guidance is to “harden the vehicle’s electronic architecture” against potential attacks.

To do that, there’s a lot of talk about being “risk based,” which basically just means companies should be deliberate about figuring out where things might go particularly bad and focus on those first. The non-binding federal guidance recommends that cyber protections start with “safety-critical vehicle control systems” – things like brakes, acceleration and steering – along with “personally identifiable information.”

One key step is “creating an inventory” of “all vehicles and vehicle equipment that have some form of connectivity to each other or to other services,” the guidelines say. Once risks are identified, companies should also put in place “rapid detection and remediation capabilities,” according to the voluntary “best practices.”

“If a cyber attack is detected, the safety risk to vehicle occupants and surrounding road users should be mitigated and the vehicle should be transitioned to a reasonable risk state,” the guidance says.

Which translates to: Figure out what’s happening and find a way to cut the danger fast. Of course, that’s easier said than done, which makes this such a fraught area.

Documenting threats and attacks, and sharing information with others in industry as well as outside researchers and the public, is key, the document says. Companies should use “penetration tests” to probe their own soft spots.

Based on its own research, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offered a list of specific dangers to avoid.

For example, software developers often have doorways into a car’s basic electronic systems, which are useful for fixing bugs. But those doorways should be locked down or sealed once the cars hit the road, the guidance says.

Also, the encryption keys or passwords that give access to car computers “should not provide access to multiple vehicles,” according to the federal advice.

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Subway pitchman’s ex-wife sues restaurant chain Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:40:00 +0000 NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — The ex-wife of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle is suing the restaurant chain for damages, saying the company received at least three reports indicating his sexual interest in children but failed to take proper action and continued promoting him as its spokesman.

Katie McLaughlin said at a news conference Monday that she filed the lawsuit in Hamilton County Superior Court because she has questions about Subway’s actions and inactions and wants to someday have answers for her two children, who are now 3 and 5 years old.

“Questions like: What did Subway know? When did they know it? What investigations did they conduct? Did they ever notify the authorities?” said McLaughlin, who was “shocked” to learn the accusations against her husband.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, alleges Subway allowed Fogle to spend significant time in elementary schools promoting the chain after learning of allegations against him beginning in 2004.

“Finding out your husband and the father of your children is a child predator and knowing that his job involved visiting schools on a regular basis is devastating,” McLaughlin said.

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A Shakespeare by any other name is – a Marlowe Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:32:49 +0000 LONDON —The Bard was not a solo act.

Oxford University Press’ new edition of William Shakespeare’s works will credit Christopher Marlowe as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, underscoring that the playwright collaborated with others on some of his most famous works.

Marlowe, a playwright, poet and spy, will share billing in the latest version of the New Oxford Shakespeare being published this week. While scholars have long suspected that Shakespeare’s plays included the work of others, new analytical methods helped researchers conclude that sections bore the hallmarks of Marlowe’s hand.

“Shakespeare, like other geniuses, recognized the value of other people,” said Gary Taylor, a professor at Florida State University and the principal investigator of the new work. “What is Shakespeare famous for? Writing dialogue – interactions between two people. You would expect in his life there would be dialogue with other people.”

A team of 23 international scholars looked afresh at the man many consider the greatest writer in the English language. Five of the world’s most senior Shakespeare scholars –Taylor, Hugh Craig at the University of Newcastle in Australia, MacDonald P. Jackson at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; Gabriel Egan at De Montfort University, Leicester and John Jowett of the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham – had to be convinced of the issues of authorship in the works.

The editors concluded that 17 of 44 works associated with Shakespeare had input from others. The scholars used computerized data sets to reveal patterns, trends and associations – analyzing Shakespeare’s words and those of his contemporaries.

Oxford University Press said that “identifying Marlowe’s hand in the Henry VI plays is just one of the fresh features of this project.”

The authorship of Shakespeare’s works has long been disputed, with one now-discredited theory being that philosopher Sir Francis Bacon is the true author of the works. But Bacon is only mentioned in the forward of this volume. His authorship, Taylor said, is “just a wonderful story.”

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Biddeford police stay mum on identities of Portland men who were stabbed Tue, 25 Oct 2016 00:15:00 +0000 A Biddeford Police Department spokeswoman says their investigation could be compromised if they release the names of two Portland men who were stabbed in Biddeford early Sunday morning.

Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk said the men, ages 24 and 26, were taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford before they were transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment of stab wounds.

No one had been arrested as of Monday evening. The incident took place at 5 York Court in Biddeford around 5 a.m.

]]> 0 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:15:00 +0000
Logging truck rollover closes Route 121 in Casco Mon, 24 Oct 2016 22:25:11 +0000 A tractor trailer loaded with wood products rolled over Monday on Route 121 in Casco, prompting authorities to shut down the road.

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Stewart said the truck was driven by Zachary Eastman, 32, of Seabrook, New Hampshire, who was alone in the truck and was not injured. He is not expected to be charged.

Stewart said in a press release that Eastman’s truck, owned by Eastern Freight of Elizabeth, New Jersey, left the road and rolled down an embankment near Lower Coffee Pond Road.

The truck sustained only minor damage, but authorities closed Route 121 from Route 11 (Poland Spring Road) to Plains Road.

Route 121 remained closed at 7:30 p.m., more than two hours after the crash.

]]> 1, 24 Oct 2016 19:31:08 +0000
Group to be penalized for sending out flier that attacked Maine Democrat Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:55:15 +0000 A nonprofit group led by a Republican state legislator will be penalized $672 for failing to disclose election spending on a campaign flier targeting Rep. Jeff McCabe, a Democrat from Skowhegan who is running for the state Senate.

The flier sent out to voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District earlier this month tried to link McCabe to the Islamic State, saying he supports harboring illegal immigrants and terrorists in Maine.

Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Amherst, a co-founder of the conservative New England Opportunity Project who serves as the group’s president, said Monday he plans to contest the assertion by the Maine Ethics Commission that the flier the group sent out is election literature and needs to be disclosed under campaign finance laws.

The commission contacted Lockman last week after a story ran in the Morning Sentinel about the fliers, which he said were intended for fundraising, but which the commission said would likely be classified as election material given its political content and the timing of the flier just weeks before the election.

The disclosure form, filed Thursday, shows that the group spent $4,205 on the fliers opposing McCabe, a four-time state representative who is challenging Sen. Rod Whittemore, R- Skowhegan, to represent Senate District 3.

Lockman, in an email Monday to the Morning Sentinel, said that while his group agreed to file a disclosure form, he does not agree with the flier’s classification as campaign literature. Lockman said he will argue that the fliers were intended only for fundraising purposes and bringing awareness to the issue.

“It’s clear the piece is about public policy, not politics,” he wrote.

Under Maine’s Clean Elections Act, any communication that names or clearly identifies a candidate and is disseminated between Labor Day and Election Day is considered campaign material and falls under expenditure rules.

The flier targets McCabe for motioning to table a bill that Lockman had sponsored last spring that would have cut off state funding to communities that prohibit police from asking about a person’s immigration status. Lockman is widely regarded as a polarizing legislator in Maine and has been criticized for comments on abortion, gays and rape.

Paul Lavin, assistant director of the Maine Ethics Commission, said the New England Opportunity Project has not had any previous violations with the ethics commission. The nonprofit group was formed in 2015.

The commission will be sending a letter to the group saying they plan to charge a $672 penalty, based on the amount of money reported late and the number of days late the disclosure came, he said. The group could ask for a waiver at which point the commission would review the case and determine whether they pay the fine or not.

For the most part, outside spending in elections is done by political action groups and committees, and most of those groups are aware of campaign disclosure laws, Lavin said. As a result, he said it is rare for groups to not file disclosure reports when required to do so.

The New England Opportunity Project is not registered with the state as a political action committee, but would be required to do so if their spending on elections exceeds $5,000, Lavin said.

McCabe and the Maine Democratic Party last week called the flier misleading and condemned the New England Opportunity Project for failing to disclose election spending with the Maine Ethics Commission.

On Monday, McCabe said transparency is important in all elections, and he has heard from a number of voters who have reacted negatively to the fliers.

“What I heard from voters in Somerset County is that they are disgusted with these techniques,” McCabe said. “They want to hear from the candidates, they want to hear from them directly and hear the candidates’ positions on issues. These things serve as nothing more than a distraction.”

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Trump collected $17 million insurance for damage that few remember Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:12:03 +0000 PALM BEACH, Fla. – Donald Trump says he received a $17 million insurance payment in 2005 for hurricane damage to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach. But The Associated Press has found little evidence of such large-scale damage.

Two years after a series of storms, the real estate tycoon said he didn’t know how much had been spent on repairs, but acknowledged he pocketed some of the money. He transferred funds into his personal accounts, saying that under the terms of his policy “you didn’t have to reinvest it.”

“Landscaping, roofing, walls, painting, leaks, artwork in the – you know, the great tapestries, tiles, Spanish tiles, the beach, the erosion,” he said of the storm damage. “It’s still not what it was.”

Trump’s description of extensive damage does not match the versions of Mar-a-Lago members and even Trump loyalists. In an interview about Mar-a-Lago’s history, Trump’s longtime former butler, Anthony Senecal, recalled no catastrophic damage. He said Hurricane Wilma, the last of a string of storms which barreled through in 2004 and 2005, flattened trees behind the estate, but the house itself only lost some roof tiles.

“That house has never been seriously damaged,” said Senecal, discussing Mar-a-Lago’s luck with hurricanes. “I was there for all of them.”

Just over two weeks after Wilma, Trump hosted 370 guests at Mar-a-Lago for the wedding of his son Donald Jr. Wedding photographs by Getty Images showed the house, pools, cabanas and landscaping seemingly in good repair.

Valuations for Mar-a-Lago are subjective, but Forbes estimated the 110,000-square-foot property’s value at $150 million in its most recent appraisal of Trump’s net worth. Tim Frank, Palm Beach’s planning administrator at the time of the hurricanes, said $17 million in work would have required “dozens, maybe scores of workers.”

Palm Beach building department records showed no permits for construction on that scale after the storms. The only permits that appeared hurricane-related were $3,000 in repairs to storm-damaged outdoor lighting and the vacuuming of sand from the property’s beachfront pool. Likewise, records of the city’s Landmarks and Preservation Commission reflected no repair work conducted following the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

The $17 million Mar-a-Lago insurance payment surfaced during a 2007 deposition in Trump’s unsuccessful libel lawsuit against journalist Tim O’Brien, who Trump accused of underestimating his wealth. As part of the case, O’Brien’s attorneys were permitted to review Trump’s financial records, including some from the Mar-a-Lago Club. They asked Trump to quantify the damage and explain why he had pocketed money instead of spending it on repairs.

Trump said he could not remember which hurricane had damaged Mar-a-Lago or when it hit.

“We continue to spend the money because we continue to suffer the ravages of that hurricane,” Trump said.

The insurance adjustor who assessed the insurance claim, Hank Stein of VeriClaim Inc., said there had been damage to Trump’s golf course in West Palm Beach and damage to Mar-a-Lago’s roof and landscaping. Stein called his review “a thorough investigation” but could not remember details. Trump declined to provide the AP with records about the insurance claim or answer specific questions about damage at Mar-a-Lago.

Stein, who has since left VeriClaim for another firm, said he remembered water damage from rain after windows to an observation deck atop the mansion blew open. “I wish I could give you some more information on the breakdown,” he said.

Under local rules, major repairs would have required Trump to request a permit and pay permit fees. It is possible someone could perform such work without permits, avoiding as much as $450,000 in fees, but that would have likely been illegal.

The city’s former planning administrator said getting away with such extensive unpermitted work would have been unlikely. Frank cited both his own agency’s vigilance and wealthy Palm Beach residents’ habit of calling out each other’s code violations. Once, Trump’s neighbors hired lawyers to report suspicions that Trump improperly let guests sleep in poolside cabanas when they were at the club for a wedding.

“If there were $17 million dollars of damage, we sure as hell would have known about that,” said Frank. “I would have known if there was anything in the magnitude of $100,000.”

The Republican mayor of Palm Beach at the time – and Mar-a-Lago member – Jack McDonald, agreed: “I am unable to comprehend $17 million in reimbursable damage.”

Jane Day, the city’s former historical preservation consultant, also was mystified. “This is the first I’m hearing of it.”

Frank said the commission would have granted immediate approval to simple repairs, but Trump or his contractors would still have needed to file for permits.

“If they changed the doorknobs I was supposed to review it,” Frank said.

Associated Press reporters Jake Pearson in New York and Kelli Kennedy in Miami contributed to this reporting.

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Portland to host event to help immigrants find work Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:02:07 +0000 Portland is hosting its first-ever daylong conference to help immigrants find jobs within the local economy.

The conference, “Economic Necessity: Workforce Development and Immigrant Integration,” is set for Wednesday. Its point is to help the city attract and retain a vibrant, multicultural and educated workforce.

The initiative came from one of the City Council’s goals to assist new Americans and new Mainers with job opportunities and business development.

“Our goal here in Portland is to integrate disadvantaged residents into our local economy so that they can create a path for their own success and for businesses to have the employees they need for the future,” said Councilor David Brenerman, chairman of the Economic Development Committee. “We want to remove barriers for immigrants and disadvantaged residents to enter the workforce and make sure they have the tools and training they need to find gainful employment. The more we coordinate and collaborate on this effort, the more successful employers and job seekers will be.”

Several reports compiled by the Maine Department of Labor have called for initiatives to attract more immigrants to Maine’s shrinking workforce. The state is caught in demographic cross hairs where more people are retiring than entering the workforce, and more people are dying than being born. Economists predict that by 2032, Maine will face a shortfall of 109,000 workers, a significant problem in a state where the civilian labor force totaled about 689,600 in August.

This year, Coastal Enterprises Inc. launched StartSmart, a business development program for refugees and immigrants. Last month, the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce collaborated on a report that said Maine’s economy will suffer if it can’t attract and retain immigrants.

The conference will present best practices in workforce development and immigrant integration from around the country and showcase some innovative approaches locally. Time has been designated for exchanges and discussions.

Julianne Sullivan, a senior adviser to the city manager, said the conference culminates the committee’s work to evaluate “whether the city should have an Office of New Mainers, and if not, what role should the city play.”

“I’m looking forward to hearing from other cities on how they have successfully implemented an office of immigrant services and how it has impacted their economies,” Brenerman said.

The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center. The event is free, but attendees are asked to register at Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost. Here is the agenda:

n 8-8:45 a.m.: Breakfast with Brenerman, Mayor Ethan Strimling and Quincy Hentzel, president of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, discussing the economic necessity of a strong workforce that is linked to high-need industries.

n 8:45-9:45 a.m.: Tom Wahlrab of Dayton, Ohio, on how a public-private partnership developed a clear, measurable plan to make Dayton an immigrant-friendly city. n 9:45-10:45 a.m.: Ricardo Gambetta, of the Aurora, Colorado, Office of International and Immigrant Affairs, will present a detailed plan for immigrant integration, with one-stop resources and natural helpers.

n 10:45-11:45 a.m.: Bryan Warren, of the Louisville, Kentucky, Office for Globalization, will talk about international councils, connections and information, with an emphasis on immigrant integration

n 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.: Lunch and “Innovating to Meet Workforce Needs,” a presentation by USM President Glenn Cummings and Cindy Caplice of SIGCO and Giovani Twigge of Idexx, two companies with successful track records employing immigrants.

n 1-2 p.m.: Xavier Botana, superintendent of Portland Public Schools, and Julie Chase and David Zahn of Southern Maine Community College will speak on “English Language Learners and Job Readiness: National and local innovations and partnerships.”

n 2-3 p.m.: Erin Oldham of USM’s Muskie School Data Innovation Project, “What have we learned today and what’s next?”

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Man dressed as a tree arrested in middle of Portland street Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:46:49 +0000 Police say Asher Woodworth of Portland was arrested after refusing officers' orders to leave the busy intersection of Congress and High streets. WCSH-TV/Ted Varipatis

Police say Asher Woodworth of Portland was arrested after refusing officers’ orders to leave the busy intersection of Congress and High streets. WCSH-TV/Ted Varipatis

A man dressed as a tree was arrested Monday afternoon in downtown Portland on a charge of obstructing a public way.

Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said Asher Woodworth, 30, of Portland, who was standing at High and Congress streets, was arrested after refusing orders to leave the busy intersection.

Woodworth was taken to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, charged with the misdemeanor of obstructing a public way. His bail was set at $60 cash, according to a jail intake worker. He was released Monday evening after making bail.

Woodworth declined to be interviewed after being asked by the intake worker if he was interested in talking to the media.

Jail workers said the tree had to be removed from Woodworth so that a booking photo that clearly shows his face could be taken. The tree was being held at the jail.

“His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his ‘performance’ and how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography,’” Malloch said in an email.

Malloch said Woodworth made the comments as he was being booked at the jail.

“I think he is some sort of performance artist and has done this type of thing before,” Malloch said.

Malloch said Woodworth went to the intersection of High and Congress streets, near the WCSH-TV studio, Congress Square Park and the Portland Museum of Art, wearing what appeared to be branches from an evergreen tree. He was not holding a sign, handing out flyers or protesting anything when he was taken into custody.

During a 20-second video recorded by WCSH-TV, two Portland police officers are seen talking to Woodworth and lifting branches off his face as they warn him to stay out of the intersection.

“I’ll accept your silence as you understand. You’re free to go. Stay out of the roads,” one officer tells Woodworth.

The officers walk away, leaving the tree man standing next to a pedestrian crossing light. When he wanders back into traffic, Woodworth is arrested.

“It happens from time to time,” Malloch said of Woodworth’s performance. “People do bizarre things because they want to get arrested. We’re still not sure if he was trying to make a statement.”

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Deadly California bus crash happened where traffic slowed for utility work Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:44:34 +0000 PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – A maintenance crew had slowed down traffic on a California highway through the night, and the work had gone on for hours without problems. Then a tour bus returning to Los Angeles from a casino trip slammed into the back of a semi-truck. Passengers who were asleep on the bus woke up to the sound of crushing metal and screams.

The gambling jaunt ended in one of the deadliest wrecks in California history with 13 people killed and 31 others injured.

Authorities said the truck was going 5 mph when the bus plowed into it at a much faster speed on Interstate 10 just north of the desert resort town of Palm Springs. The collision crushed the front 15 feet of the bus.

“You can see it was a substantial impact,” California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said.

It was not known if alcohol, drugs or fatigue played a role in the crash, but the bus was inspected in April and had no mechanical issues, Abele said. The bus driver was killed, and the truck driver received minor injuries.

The bus was coming from Red Earth Casino in the desert town of Thermal and was about 35 miles into its 135-mile trip back to Los Angeles.

CHP officers had been slowing traffic to allow utility workers to string wires across the freeway, Abele said.

Passengers said most people were asleep when the crash occurred shortly after 5 a.m. Abele said it appeared the 1996 bus didn’t have seat belts and likely didn’t have data recorder that would reveal how fast the bus was traveling and whether the driver braked before impact.

Ana Car, 61, said she never felt the crash but awoke to the horror of the sounds of screaming and crying. Most passengers had been flung to the front of the bus and those who could move were pushing and shoving in the dark to climb out from under each other.

The retired factory worker started screaming and clambered to a broken window to yell for help, panicked she would be trapped if the bus caught fire. Motorists who stopped to help pulled her out the broken window.

“I couldn’t stand when they got me out,” Car said. “I sat on the side of the road, watching them pull so many people out. I saw so much blood and two dead bodies. I was so scared.”

Before April, the bus also was inspected in 2014 and 2015, the CHP said. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records show it had no crashes in the past two years and had a satisfactory safety rating.

The front of the bus crumpled into the semi-truck’s trailer and debris was scattered across the key route through Southern California. Firefighters used ladders to remove bodies through windows, and tow trucks lifted the trailer to make it easier to reach the bus, whose front end was demolished.

Fourteen patients were sent to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, the area’s only trauma center. Of the eight who were still known to be hospitalized, four remained in critical condition Monday, hospital officials said.

Many suffered facial injuries, a telltale sign they were not wearing seat belts, said Dr. Ricard Townsend, a trauma surgeon.

“It seemed as though most of the victims were unrestrained and were therefore flown through the air and ended up sustaining facial trauma,” he said.

The Riverside County sheriff-coroner’s office identified 11 of the 13 people killed, naming nine women between the ages of 52 and 72, a 62-year-old man, and the bus owner-driver, Teodulo Vides, 59. All were from Los Angeles except for a woman who was from Palmdale. A man and woman had not been identified.

The tour bus company, USA Holiday, has one vehicle and one driver, according to federal regulators. A call to the company was not immediately returned.

The company says on social media that it has more than 25 years of experience traveling to casinos in Southern California. It posts about quick turnaround trips leaving the Los Angeles area to casinos in the Southern California desert area and Las Vegas.

The bus owner’s neighbor said she’d often see a tour bus with the sign “USA Holiday” parked on the street in front of his apartment in a working-class neighborhood in Alhambra, about 7 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Sonia Anderson said the family who lived there – a man, woman and their college student son – had lived in the apartment for about 17 years. She said the father generally drove the bus and his wife and son would sometimes travel on the bus with him.

Anderson described them as a kind, close-knit family. “All three of them are hard-working people. Good people. Beautiful family,” she said.

The father was “always working, coming in and out, providing for his family,” Anderson said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to California to investigate.

The crash comes two years after a FedEx truck veered across an interstate median north of Sacramento and slammed into a bus full of high school students, killing 10 people.

In 1963, 32 Mexican farm workers who were in the Central Valley as part of a work visa program were killed when a freight train struck the flatbed truck they were riding on. In 1976, a bus carrying the Yuba City high school choir plunged off a freeway ramp in Martinez, killing 28 students and one teacher.

Rodriguez reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Julie Watson in San Diego, Courtney Bonnell in Phoenix, and Daisy Nguyen and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

]]> 0, 24 Oct 2016 15:44:34 +0000
Two men charged with bringing heroin, cocaine to Maine on a bus Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:32:53 +0000 AUGUSTA — Police arrested two men Saturday night on drug trafficking charges after receiving a tip that they were bringing narcotics to Augusta on a Concord Coach Lines bus.

The men – 28-year-old Allan T.J. Nunnally of Fairfield and 44-year-old Christopher Wilson of Troy, New York – were each charged with unlawful trafficking of schedule W drugs and taken to Kennebec County jail. Bail was set at $30,000 for each of them.

Police stopped them at the bus station on Industrial Drive at 7:30 p.m., said Jared Mills, deputy chief of the Augusta Police Department, in a news release Monday.

During the stop, Detective Matthew Estes of the Augusta Police Department and Trooper Eric Verhille of the Maine State Police seized more than 10 grams of heroin and more than 6 grams of crack cocaine, Mills said. They were assisted by members of the Lewiston Police Department.

“Information was obtained by our department from a member of the public that two males would be getting off the bus in Augusta carrying drugs,” Mills wrote. “Based upon this information, Detective Estes and a (Maine State Police dog unit) responded to the Concord Bus Line on Industrial Drive and watched while the two males, matching the description, exited the bus. After introducing themselves, Detective Estes and Trooper Verhille proceeded with their investigation that resulted in the seizure.”

In a follow-up email, Mills declined to say where Nunnally and Wilson had been traveling from, saying it was part of the investigation.

]]> 3, 24 Oct 2016 15:32:53 +0000
Harvest of horseshoe crabs for medical use getting official review Mon, 24 Oct 2016 19:24:05 +0000 Interstate fishing regulators who want to get a firmer handle on how many horseshoe crabs die as part of their harvest for biomedical use are meeting this week to discuss the issue.

The crabs are harvested for their blue blood, which is used to make sure medical products aren’t contaminated. Their blood contains a chemical that can be used to detect bacteria.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has proposed taking into account the death toll associated with medical harvesting when determining how many horseshoe crabs can be harvested from the Delaware Bay.

The commission is meeting on Wednesday to discuss next steps.

The medical harvest is about 500,000 crabs per year.

They have also been harvested commercially from Maine to Florida over the years.

]]> 0 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:45:20 +0000
Consumer Reports names top-ranked vehicles in reliability survey Mon, 24 Oct 2016 18:11:04 +0000 Consumer Reports on Monday released its predicted reliability rankings for 2017 model-year vehicles and brands. The rankings are based on a survey of the magazine’s subscribers as well as Consumer Reports’ road tests and safety data.

Here are the 10 most reliable vehicles and the 10 least reliable vehicles and their scores on a scale of 0-100.


  1. Toyota Prius (94)
  2. Lexus CT 200h (94)
  3. Infiniti Q70 (91)
  4. Audi Q3 (91)
  5. Lexus GX (90)
  6. Lexus GS (89)
  7. Mercedes-Benz GLC (89)
  8. Chevrolet Cruze (89)
  9. Audi Q7 (88)
  10. Toyota 4Runner (88)


  1. Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon (13)
  2. Fiat 500 L (13)
  3. Ford Fiesta (13)
  4. Ram 2500 (13)
  5. Tesla Model X (12)
  6. Chrysler 200 (11)
  7. Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL (10)
  8. Jeep Renegade (8)
  9. Ford Focus (6)
  10. Cadillac Escalade (3)




  1. Hyundai Accent
  2. Nissan Versa Note
  3. Chevrolet Sonic


  1. Chevrolet Cruze
  2. Toyota Corolla
  3. Mazda3


  1. Kia Optima
  2. Toyota Camry
  3. Honda Accord

Large car

  1. Hyundai Azera
  2. Toyota Avalon
  3. Chevrolet Impala


  1. Toyota Prius
  2. Toyota Prius V
  3. Nissan Leaf

Luxury entry-level

  1. Lexus CT 200h
  2. Buick Verano
  3. Acura ILX

Luxury compact

  1. Lexus IS
  2. Buick Regal
  3. BMW 3 Series

Luxury midsize

  1. Infiniti Q70
  2. Lexus GS
  3. Lexus ES

Luxury large car

  1. Lexus LS
  2. Tesla Model S
  3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Sporty car over $40,000

  1. Lexus RC
  2. BMW 2 Series
  3. Audi A5

Sporty car under $40,000

  1. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  2. Volkswagen GTI
  3. Subaru WRX/STi


  1. Volvo V60
  2. Subaru Outback
  3. Volkswagen Golf SportWagen


  1. Toyota Sienna
  2. Honda Odyssey
  3. Dodge Grand Caravan

Subcompact SUV

  1. Chevrolet Trax
  2. Subaru Crosstrek
  3. Honda HR-V

Compact SUV

  1. Toyota RAV4
  2. Subaru Forester
  3. Volkswagen Tiguan

Midsize SUV

  1. Toyota 4Runner
  2. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  3. Toyota Highlander

Large SUV

  1. Ford Expedition
  2. Ford Flex
  3. Chevrolet Traverse

Luxury entry-level SUV

  1. Audi Q3
  2. Buick Encore
  3. Mini Cooper Countryman

Luxury compact SUV

  1. Mercedes-Benz GLC
  2. Infiniti QX50
  3. Lexus NX

Luxury midsize SUV

  1. Lexus GX
  2. Audi Q7
  3. Lexus RX

Luxury large SUV

  1. Buick Enclave
  2. Mercedes-Benz GLS
  3. Cadillac Escalade

Compact pickup truck

  1. Nissan Frontier
  2. Chevrolet Colorado
  3. GMC Canyon

Full-size pickup truck

  1. Toyota Tundra
  2. Ford F-250
  3. Ford F-350
]]> 1, 24 Oct 2016 14:58:32 +0000
Democrats accuse Republican senators of misusing state and campaign funds Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:27:38 +0000 AUGUSTA — Two Democratic state senators say Republican Sens. Andre Cushing of Newport and Ron Collins of Wells have defrauded Maine taxpayers by double-dipping on their expense reports for lodging and travel.

Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, and Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said Cushing and Collins have inappropriately received expense reimbursement from the Senate office for things they had previously paid for with reelection campaign funds or political action committee funds.

“His big donors had already paid for the damn trip, he didn’t have any shred of right to make the taxpayers pay them back,” Patrick said of Cushing in a State House news conference. He said Cushing had “acknowledged the wrongdoing,” blaming it on an accounting mistake, but he and Alfond were not willing to accept the explanation.

“That doesn’t pass the straight-face test – it’s total crap,” Patrick said.

He and Alfond said they hadn’t gone through expense and campaign finance reports for all 35 state senators, so they didn’t know whether other senators of either party had used campaign funds and Senate reimbursements in the same manner.

Collins said Senate rules do not prohibit him from seeking reimbursement for expenses paid by his political action committee. He said he checked with the state’s Ethics Commission before he spent the campaign funds on the lodging, and he accused Democrats of trying to smear an incumbent Republican two weeks before the election in an attempt to regain the majority in the Senate.

“These records have been sitting around in file cabinets over at ethics for a couple years now or more,” Collins said. “And they are just now bringing it out? It’s very obvious to me what they are trying to do, they are trying to pick up a seat by tarnishing a sitting senator’s reputation, it’s very obvious to me, and it’s unfortunate they have to use these tactics in an attempt to get the majority.”

Cushing said he too was advised by the Ethics Commission that the state couldn’t directly reimburse his PAC for travel expenditures, and that he would have to submit expense statements to the Senate personally and then reimburse the PAC, which he said he has done.

“I’m not as flush as some people are and it’s easier for me to try and track the expense for my travel to my political action committee,” Cushing said, adding that he doesn’t believe he violated any laws or even any rules.

He said he had failed to document the repayments to the PAC during the last reporting period, and said that the report would be amended by the end of the week.

“I have maintained the policy that I was advised by Ethics to report this so that it would be properly documented where the money came from to reimburse either myself or in this case the PAC for those expenses,” Cushing said. “I do not believe I have violated any ethics rules or any state statutes in reimbursing myself and ultimately returning the money to where it originated, which was from the PAC.”

Neither Cushing nor Collins addressed the question of whether it was proper to ask taxpayers, who fund the operation of the Legislature, to pay for expenses that already have by covered by another entity – such as a PAC, which often are used to help other candidates of the same party.

Tim Feeley, spokesman for Attorney General Janet Mills, said Mills would not comment on whether any legal concerns were raised by the use of Senate expense reimbursements.

The Press Herald was unable to immediately confirm that the Ethics Commission gave the advice described by Collins and Cushing. The commission has jurisdiction over campaign finance spending, but it does not oversee the legislative reimbursement system.

Patrick and Alfond, the Democrats who drew attention to the reimbursements, produced copies of documents showing that on Nov. 11, 2014, Collins prepaid $2,400 of lodging costs at the Senator Inn in Augusta for the upcoming legislative session by expending funds from his 2014 reelection campaign. He later submitted expense statements to the Senate for reimbursement of those same lodging expenditures. Reimbursements submitted to the Senate are funded with taxpayer money, as part of the Legislature’s budget.

Cushing paid for lodging and airfare for a trip to a summit meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in Seattle in 2015 by making an expenditure from his Respect Maine PAC. But he then also requested and was paid a $1,796 reimbursement for the same trip by the Secretary of the Senate, according to state documents.

Alfond said Cushing took “corporate interest money out of his PAC, paid for these trips and then asked the Maine taxpayer to refund these same trips. This is double-dipping, it is intentional, there is no way you can sign a document every single week and not know what you are doing,” Alfond said. “This is egregious.”

Both he and Patrick also called on their fellow lawmakers to tighten the rules and improve transparency on legislative expense reports. The reports are public records and can be requested under the state’s Freedom of Access Act, but they are not posted online or made readily available for public inspection in the way that the campaign finance reports are.

The two Democrats called on Republican Senate President Mike Thibodeau to convene a meeting of the Senate’s five-member ethics committee to review the allegations.

But Thibodeau refused, saying Democrats were playing politics just before an election.

“If the Democrats were truly concerned about this issue, they could have reached out to me at any time,” Thibodeau said in a prepared statement. “Instead, they chose to call a news conference, and then send a letter addressed to me after it started – a letter that did not include the information that they provided to the press and have still not provided to my office.

“If Democrats want to talk about changing existing law regarding state legislative reimbursements in the next session, I would be happy to have that discussion,” Thibodeau said.

Thibodeau also referred to two state laws that address campaign finance and per diem reimbursements for lawmakers.

The statute on the use of campaign funds provides that they may be spent on legislative expenses provided, “… each expenditure is itemized on expenditure reports.”

The law on reimbursements for state lawmakers allows each member of the Senate or House to collect a $32 meal allowance and a $38 housing allowance for each day they attend the legislative session. The statute doesn’t address what should come of the “allowance” if the expense has already been paid for.

Alfond and Patrick said they did not attempt to do a comprehensive review of all state senators and acknowledged there was no regular audit of legislative expense reports that correlated them with PAC or campaign spending.

Jim Cyr, the spokesman for Senate Republicans, said Cushing already had filed an amended report to the Maine Ethics Commission regarding his PAC spending, and the commission will have to determine how it wants to proceed.

“It should come as no surprise that some Senate Democrats are hurling accusations at their Republican colleagues two weeks before an election,” Cyr wrote in an email message. “What should be alarming to all of us is that they would hold a news conference based on unfounded accusations of wrongdoing.”

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

Twitter: thisdog

]]> 24, 24 Oct 2016 19:20:46 +0000
Addiction rehab scholarship established in memory of Devon Higgins Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:02:27 +0000 SCARBOROUGH — The challenges that Jaime Higgins experienced in helping her brother Devon access rehabilitation services for heroin addiction inspired her to help start Operation HOPE last year at the Scarborough Police Department.

During a yearlong sobriety, Devon Higgins volunteered with Operation HOPE and helped others get into rehab programs, before he died Sept. 26 of an apparent heroin overdose.

Now Jaime Higgins has established the Devon Higgins HOPE Scholarship so that her brother’s name will continue to be a part of the innovative, police-based addiction intervention program.

“I didn’t want other families to struggle like we did,” Higgins said. “Because of him I was dedicated to helping others struggling with substance use disorder.”

Higgins said she got the idea for the scholarship from an initial donor who suggested establishing a fund in Devon’s name that would help others get rehab services. Started last week, the fund has already raised $5,100.

Through Operation HOPE (Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort), people who are ready to get clean can walk into the police station on Route 1 and ask for assistance in getting into a rehab facility. The program has placed 208 people in the past year.

The scholarship will help pay for 30-day stays in residential rehab facilities, which can cost $650 to $3,000 at discounted rates negotiated by Operation HOPE, Higgins said.

To donate to the Devon Higgins HOPE Scholarship, make a check out to Project Grace, the Scarborough nonprofit that handles donations to Operation HOPE. Note the scholarship in the memo line.

Checks may be sent to Project Grace, P.O. Box 6848, Scarborough, ME 04070 or dropped off at the police station at 246 U.S. Route 1. To make a donation online, visit the Project Grace website at and look for Operation HOPE under “Giving.”

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

]]> 0, 24 Oct 2016 19:25:02 +0000
Windham’s Richard Nickerson receives Grammy educator nomination Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:44:27 +0000 Richard Nickerson, director of choral activities at Windham High School, has been nominated for the 2017 Music Educator Award, created by the Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation to recognize “educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education.”

He has taught at Windham for 30 years, and is among 25 music educators nationwide who advanced to the semifinal round of the award process. He also was nominated in 2013, the first year it was awarded, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Ten finalists will be announced in December, and the winner will be recognized during Grammy week and will attend the 59th Grammy Awards ceremony on Feb. 12.

“I was kind of shocked,” Nickerson said Monday night. “The number of people who are nominated, and to be in the top 25, that is very humbling for me. I work with some incredible teachers. To represent those in our field is really quite an honor.”

At Windham, Nickerson conducts three choirs, teaches music courses and serves as music coordinator for the district. He’s been named Maine Music Educator of the Year, Maine Distinguished Choral Director of the Year and was runner-up for Maine Teacher of the Year.

Choral Director Magazine named him one of 10 “Choral Directors of Note” in the United States.

After he received his doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Missouri, Nickerson thought he would leave Windham to teach at the college level.

Ultimately, he decided he wanted to stay in Windham at the high school level. “Honestly, I feel this is where I am supposed to be. Working with high school kids is my gift,” he said.

One of his choirs just completed a tribute concert to the rock band Queen, and he has begun preparing his singers for a holiday concert on Dec. 3. Being able to move from the music of Queen to holiday songs is one of the things he loves most about his job.

“I am fortunate to work in an environment where I am able to take chances. We don’t do the same thing all the time,” he said. “And I have a supportive community. The tribute to Queen was packed, mobbed – and it was so far out of the box from what we would normally do.”

In addition to his duties at school, Nickerson is minister of music at North Windham Union Church.

He and his family live in Windham.


]]> 0, 24 Oct 2016 20:51:47 +0000
Theater review: A marriage on edge, in ‘Angel Street’ Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:35:34 +0000

The latest from The Originals theater company is a vintage melodrama offering a few chills as the nights grow long.

Patrick Hamilton’s “Angel Street,” also known as “Gas Light,” has had numerous stage revivals and screen adaptations in its 70-plus years of existence. By any name, the play remains an enjoyable diversion for anyone who longs for a good, old-fashioned thriller.

The story concerns the Manninghams, an affluent couple in 1880s London. As the lights come up, we quickly see that all is not well, as a fraught Bella gazes upon her husband Jack. Jack is a subtle tyrant, skilled at using a voice of reason to make unreasonable accusations of deception against his wife. Bella’s desperate efforts to please her spouse are met with increasingly menacing insinuations that she’s losing her mind, as her mother had years before, and she begins to doubt herself.

The rest of the 90-minute play becomes an exercise in working out the reasons for this unhealthy marital dynamic. To that end enters Mr. Rough, a retired detective sergeant who believes he knows what Jack’s game is and seeks to keep Bella on the right side of sanity by helping her to prove it. The plot may be a twist short of being all that mysterious, but it holds suspense as Rough and Bella try to put all the pieces together.

Jennifer Porter is an affecting Bella, vocally and facially revealing her character’s quaking vulnerability under her husband’s unpredictable rule. Her resurgence under the wing of the avuncular Rough becomes a cathartic pleasure.

Brian Chamberlain makes a truly imposing Jack, using volume and tone of voice, as well as a looming physical presence, to insure that his character’s view of things constitutes the final word. When Jack’s explosive anger finally appears, Chamberlain makes it clear that his Jack is more than capable of the heinous acts alleged by Rough.

Dana Packard, who also directs the production, plays Rough at a class removed from the Manninghams, the better to see through Jack’s pretenses. His character’s ability to connect with a household servant proves important to the action. Packard also executes some welcome comic relief as the play moves along.

Cheryl McMahon and Elisabeth Hardcastle play the servants, the former a friend to Bella, the latter a coquettish foe. John Martin and Jack Kimball appear briefly at the end as policemen.

The set, designed by Porter, who also worked with Barbara Kelly on the attractive period costumes, is a detailed interior in which a roll-top desk and dimming gaslights play important roles.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland

]]> 0, 24 Oct 2016 11:35:34 +0000
Trump’s oldest son, Donald Jr., campaigns in Maine on Tuesday Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:09:53 +0000 The oldest son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will stump for his father in Maine on Tuesday, with stops planned at a gun shop and indoor shooting range as well as a popular hot dog stand.

Donald Trump Jr., the child of Trump’s first marriage, will visit supporters at Howell’s Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Gray at 9:45 a.m. before heading to the Androscoggin County Republican Party headquarters in Auburn, which serves as the headquarters for the Trump campaign in Maine as well.

For lunch, Trump will stop by Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston – a week after former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, was there stumping for Hillary Clinton.

The visit to the gun shop is likely meant to shore up support for the Republican with Second Amendment voters and others opposed to tighter gun regulations supported by Clinton.

Trump’s campaign has focused on Maine’s 2nd District, where the Republican has had a slight edge in the polls over Clinton. Lewiston is the district’s largest city and it has twice selected Republican Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump supporter, over his Democratic and independent rivals.

The visit by Donald Trump Jr. is the sixth to the state by either the candidate, who has visited four times, or one of his offspring. Earlier in October Trump’s third-oldest son, Eric, and his wife, Lara, visited a Turner apple orchard, the Auburn headquarters and Bangor.

Meanwhile, Trump himself visited Bangor in person, attending a rally at the Cross Insurance Center on Oct. 15.

]]> 19, 24 Oct 2016 21:13:39 +0000
Saco candidate for Maine House charged with aggravated assault Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:08:49 +0000 Maine Republican leaders moved swiftly Monday to condemn a House candidate from Saco who was charged the night before with felony aggravated assault.

Mark Bedell, a Republican from Saco, is seeking the House District 15 seat. He is running against Democrat Maggie O’Neil. Both are first-time candidates hoping to fill the seat left vacant by Democrat Justin Chenette, who stepped down to run for state Senate.

Bedell was arrested Sunday by Saco police after a 42-year-old woman reported that he assaulted her at his home on Watson Mills Road. Police released few details about the alleged assault and there was no arrest affidavit filed with the court, but York County Assistant District Attorney Tanya Pierson said in court Monday that it involved strangulation. He and the woman were identified as friends.

Bedell, 50, made an initial appearance in York County court Monday afternoon via video conference. Bail was set at $2,500 cash, which he later posted and was released.

In court, Bedell spoke only when the judge asked if he understood the charge against him. “I know what she alleges,” he replied.

Bedell did not respond to an interview request at the jail, but his court-appointed attorney for the hearing, Mark Peltier, said Bedell is “eager for his day in court on this matter.”

A woman who was in court Monday during Bedell’s appearance said she was the victim’s sister. She said her sister was hospitalized with bruises and a possible concussion. She would not comment further, or give her name but said her sister, who has not been named, was extremely upset and embarrassed.

Bedell has no prior criminal record in Maine, according to state records.

Even before Bedell’s court appearance, Republicans were calling on him to abandon his candidacy.

“I strongly condemn the actions of Mark Bedell,” House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette said in a statement. “As someone who has sponsored and worked hard to pass legislation to deal with domestic violence, I find the report of his conduct to be reprehensible. I strongly urge him to publicly withdraw as a candidate for the Maine Legislature and we are all praying for his wife and family.”

Maine Republican Chairman Rick Bennett and York County Republican Chairman Jim Booth also called on Bedell to withdraw.

“While we insist that the justice system be allowed to work to determine Mr. Bedell’s innocence or guilt, we will not stand idly by in this matter,” Bennett said in a statement Monday. “We take domestic violence very seriously, and these allegations are deeply disturbing. There is no place in our party for this sort of behavior. We encourage Mr. Bedell to step aside, to seek whatever help he needs personally in this matter, and to let the justice system work.”

Added Booth: “Republicans and I personally have no tolerance for domestic abuse. We also note that this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There is no excuse for what Mr. Bedell is alleged to have done.”

Bedell is running for a House seat that has been reliably Democratic for several years. Prior to Chenette, who served two terms, the seat was held for eight years by Linda Valentino, a Democrat.

Bedell, whose family owned a car dealership in Saco for many years, spent much of his adult life outside Maine, working in professional theater, film and television, but moved back to the state in 2015, according to his campaign website. Since then, he has worked doing stunts and effects for various theaters in southern Maine.

It’s not clear whether Bedell is married. His campaign website does not give his marital status or whether he has children.

His candidate profile said he said had never considered running for office before, but was recruited after attending a local Republican Party meeting.

“You know the old adage, everyone complains about the political climate but no one ever does anything about it,” he said. “Well, here is a chance for me to put my money where my mouth is.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 97, 24 Oct 2016 20:47:57 +0000
Elon Musk envisions 1,000 spaceships flying en masse to Mars Mon, 24 Oct 2016 14:26:50 +0000 SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given more details about his plan to colonize Mars.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, 2016, Associated Press/Refugio Ruiz

SpaceX founder Elon Musk speaks during the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, 2016. Associated Press/Refugio Ruiz

Musk answered questions on Reddit on Sunday. The session was a followup to Musk’s comments at a space conference in Mexico last month during which he unveiled his plan to send up to 1 million people to Mars within the next 40 to 100 years.

Musk envisions 1,000 passenger ships flying en masse to the red planet “Battlestar Galactica” style.

He elaborated on that plan Sunday, saying an unmanned ship will be sent to Mars with equipment to build a plant to create refueling propellant for return trips to Earth. He says the first manned crew would have the job of constructing the plant.

Musk said last month SpaceX is already working on equipment for the project.

This story will be updated.

]]> 5, 24 Oct 2016 10:57:42 +0000
Iceland braces for takeover by the Pirate Party Mon, 24 Oct 2016 14:19:09 +0000 REYKJAVIK, ICELAND — The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago.

Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls – and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home.

And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king.

The rise of the Pirates – from radical fringe to focal point of Icelandic politics – has astonished even the party’s founder, a poet, Web programmer and former WikiLeaks activist.

“No way,” said 49-year-old Birgitta Jónsdóttir when asked whether she could have envisioned her party governing the country so soon after its launch.

But this, after all, is 2016. And to a string of electoral impossibilities that suddenly became reality – including Britain voting for Brexit and Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination – the world may soon add a Pirate Party-led government in Europe.

Victory for the Pirates may not mean much in isolation. This exceptionally scenic, lava-strewn rock just beyond the Arctic Circle has a population less than half that of Washington, D.C., with no army and an economy rooted in tourism and fishing.

But a Pirate Party win would offer a vivid illustration of how far Europeans are willing to go in their rejection of the political mainstream, adding to a string of insurgent triumphs emanating from both the far left and far right.

To Jónsdóttir and other Pirate true believers – who define their party as neither left nor right, but a radical movement that combines the best of both – the election here could also be the start of the reboot that Western democracy so desperately needs.

“People want real changes and they understand that we have to change the systems, we have to modernize how we make laws,” said Jónsdóttir, whose jet-black hair and matching nail polish cut a distinctive profile in a country where politics has long been dominated by paunchy blond men.

The sticker affixed to the back of her chrome-finish laptop stands out, too: an imitation seal of the U.S. government, the familiar arrow-bearing eagle encircled by the words “National Security Agency Monitored Device.” At the Pirates’ tech-start-up-esque office in an industrial area of Reykjavik’s seafront, a Guy Fawkes mask hangs from the wall and a skull-and-crossbones flag peeks out from a ceramic vase.

Iceland is, in some ways, a strange place for such a rogue movement to flourish. The country is one of earth’s most equitable, most peaceful and most prosperous. Home to the world’s oldest parliament – it traces its origins back to a gathering of Norse settlers in A.D. 930 – this remote island nation that can feel more like a small, genteel town is not known for political turbulence.

But Iceland has been afflicted by the same anti-establishment fervor that has swept the rest of the Western world in recent years.

In many ways, the alienation from politics has been even more acute here. The 2008 global financial crisis brought the once highflying economy to ruin, saved only by a $4.6 billion international bailout. Bankers went to jail, and a street protest movement was born.

The populist spirit was revved up once again this past spring when the leak of the Panama Papers revealed an offshore company owned by the prime minister’s wife that staked a claim to Iceland’s collapsed banks. The perceived conflict of interest brought thousands of protesters to the streets, a crowd that, as a share of the overall population, was equal to as many as 21 million people in the United States.

With protests building, the prime minister quit and new elections were called. But the public’s cynicism about a political system long steered by an insider clique only deepened.

“The distrust that had long been germinating has now exploded. The Pirates are riding on that wave,” said Ragnheithur Kristjánsdóttir, a political history professor at the University of Iceland. “We’ve had new parties before, and then they’ve faded. What’s surprising is that they’re maintaining their momentum.”

The Pirates, part of an international movement of the same name, are not the only ones seizing on the country’s discontented political spirit. Several new parties have surged and could well set Iceland’s direction for the next four years. Meanwhile, parties that have traded power in Iceland for decades are bumping along in polls at historic lows.

Outsiders may regard the idea of a government run by Pirates as a joke. But “the voters think a joke is better than what we have now,” said Benedikt Jóhannesson, leader of another insurgent party that is even younger than the Pirates and has also earned substantial support.

Jóhannesson hastens to add that he doesn’t see the Pirates as a joke. His buttoned-down party is made up of technocrats, academics and business executives, a far cry from the punk-rock, hacker spirit of the Pirates.

But the two may be in coalition talks after the election if, as expected, no party comes anywhere near the majority needed to govern. He may not agree with the Pirates on many issues, he said, but at least they share a belief in the need for fundamental change.

“Some of our parties have been around for 100 years,” said Jóhannesson, fresh off a 10-hour drive back from a campaign swing through the remote Icelandic countryside. “But the systems that worked in, say, the 1960s don’t necessarily work for the 2010s.”

Not everyone is so gung-ho about calls for radical change.

The latest opinion polls show the Pirates jostling for first place with the Independence Party. The center-right party is synonymous with Iceland’s political establishment, having governed the country for much of its modern history. But it was badly tarnished by its stewardship of the bubble economy in the lead-up to the 2008 crash.

“People are still angry at us for that,” acknowledged Birgir Ármannsson, an Independence member of Parliament. “There’s still a lot of distrust in traditional politics and traditional politicians.”

That’s understandable given the scale of Iceland’s economic meltdown, Ármannsson said. But he also said voters should give the current government, of which Independence is a junior partner, credit for Iceland’s economic revival. Now out of the doldrums, the country is back to low unemployment, low inflation and a balanced budget – all of which could be at risk if the Pirates come to power.

“You can try experiments,” said the suit-and-tie clad Ármannsson in an interview at the country’s 19th-century stone Parliament building. “But if you want economic stability and growth, then you have to vote for us.”

Ármannsson questioned what the Pirates actually represent: “They know what they’re against. But it’s difficult to find out what they’re really for.”

Indeed, the Pirates have spelled out their positions on issues from fishing quotas to online pornography to Snowden. (Party leaders offered him Icelandic citizenship if he can find a way to get here.) But on some of the biggest questions facing the country, the official party position is to punt to the voters.

Whether Iceland should join the European Union, for instance, is a debate that has raged in the country for years. But the Pirates have not taken a stand, insisting instead that the matter should be decided in a national referendum.

Some of the party’s signature proposals, meanwhile, are vaguely defined. The Pirates were born in Sweden as a movement to counter digital copyright laws. But the party’s proposal to make Iceland “a digital safe haven,” much like Switzerland is for banking, is hazy on the details.

To party devotees, that’s fine. The Pirates, they say, are less about any specific ideology than they are about a belief that the West’s creaking political systems can be hacked to give citizens a greater say in their democracy.

]]> 1 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 10:22:16 +0000
Jury selection begins in Maine triple-killing trial Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:57:06 +0000 BANGOR – A Maine man charged with killing his girlfriend and her two children is due to stand trial.

Jury selection was set for Monday in the trial of Keith Coleman, of Garland. Coleman has been charged in the deaths of 36-year-old Christina Sargent, 10-year-old Duwayne Coke and 8-year-old Destiny Sargent.

Investigators say the bodies were found Dec. 20, 2014, in a mobile home Coleman shared with the victims.

A court affidavit says Coleman told investigators he chased down and strangled the children because they had witnessed their mother’s death.

]]> 0 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:59:17 +0000
5 dead in wrong-way crash on I-495 in Massachusetts Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:35:10 +0000 MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. – State police say five people have died in a wrong-way crash on a Massachusetts highway.

Officials say the preliminary investigation indicates that a vehicle traveling south on the northbound side of Interstate 495 in Middleborough struck a vehicle heading in the correct direction early Monday morning.

The driver and lone occupant of the wrong-way vehicle died, as did four people in the other vehicle. The crash occurred at 12:11 a.m.

State police did not immediately release any information about the victims.

The northbound side of the highway was closed during the investigation, but has since reopened.

]]> 4 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 15:35:50 +0000
Clinton to campaign in New Hampshire Monday Mon, 24 Oct 2016 13:31:46 +0000 MANCHESTER, N.H. – Hillary Clinton is returning to New Hampshire campaign stop with just about two weeks to go until Election Day.

The Democratic presidential nominee will campaign in Manchester on Monday alongside Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. This is Clinton’s third trip to New Hampshire since July. Clinton campaigned alongside former rival Bernie Sanders in both of her previous trips, reflecting her attempts to reach out to the supporters who propelled Sanders to a win in the February primary.

Clinton and Warren are hosting a 12:30 p.m. rally at Saint Anselm College.

Republican Donald Trump has appeared more frequently in New Hampshire, campaigning here nearly once a week.

New Hampshire provides four Electoral College votes.

The election is Nov. 8.

]]> 0 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:35:20 +0000
France moving thousands of migrants, destroying ‘Jungle’ camp Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:46:07 +0000 CALAIS, France — Lines of migrants with their lives in small bags waited calmly to get on buses in the French port city of Calais on Monday, the first day of the mass evacuation and destruction of the squalid camp they called home.

French authorities were beginning a complex operation to shut down the makeshift camp, uprooting thousands who made treacherous journeys to escape wars, dictators or grinding poverty and dreamed of building new lives in Britain.

Closely watched by more than 1,200 police, the first of hundreds of buses arrived to begin transferring migrants to reception centers around France where they can apply for asylum. The camp will then be leveled in a weeklong operation. Hotels and even castles are among the hundreds of buildings officials have been converting to migrant housing.

“This is an operation we want to be peaceful and under control. So far it is,” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in Paris.

Authorities say the camp, known as “the jungle,” holds nearly 6,500 migrants who are seeking to get to Britain. Aid groups say there are more than 8,300.

The harsh reality of the move hit migrants on Monday. Some were happy to leave, others were confused or in shock.

Afghan Imran Khan, 35, risks expulsion if he accepts the French plan to move him to a reception center, because his fingerprints were taken in another European country before he arrived in France. Under European rules, he must be sent back to the country where he first registered.

“I will decide tomorrow (what to do),” he said.

Khan lives in a filthy tent, one of hundreds that are expected to be destroyed by the end of the week as their occupants depart, gradually closing down the camp that sprang up behind an official shelter housing women and providing showers and daily meals.

Unaccompanied minors, many with family members in Britain, were to be housed on-site in containers set up earlier this year as their files are studied in London to see if they qualify for a transfer across the English Channel. The humanitarian organization France Terre d’Asile says 1,291 unaccompanied minors live in the camp.

One 16-year-old Eritrean, Daniel, was heading to the registration center with his cousin, also an unaccompanied minor. “I’m not happy because it’s finished, ‘the jungle.’ I want to go to the U.K.,” he said.

In Calais for eight months, he said he has tried daily to jump on trucks heading to Britain, like other migrants in the camp. “I don’t want France,” he insisted.

Fourteen migrants have died this year in the Calais area.

The unofficial camp, which sprang up 18 months ago, was previously tolerated but given almost no state help. Aid groups, and hundreds of British volunteers, have provided basic necessities. It devolved into a slum where tensions bubbled, friendships formed and smugglers thrived.

The forced departure of thousands is an enormous task, planned for months.

Authorities have had practice. They dismantled the southern half of the camp in March, a chaotic, even brutal, bulldozing operation that drew complaints from human rights groups.

This time, authorities hope to restore some pride by closing the camp that has been seen as a national disgrace in a peaceful, humane operation.

Officials have said that there will be a solution for each migrant — though expulsion may be among them for those who don’t qualify for asylum. Meanwhile, France will spend 25 euros a day on each migrant in the reception centers, according to officials. It was not immediately clear how long they will be allowed to stay.

Some doubt the camp’s dismantling will end the migrant flux into northern France which predates the slum.

A 2003 French-British accord effectively put the British border in Calais, stopping migrants there and putting the onus on France to deal with their plight.

Now, some fear those determined to cross the English Channel will scatter and create ‘mini-jungles’ along the northern coast in a never-ending bid to outsmart heavy security and high fences blocking their path to Britain.

Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to the story.

]]> 7, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:54 +0000
Tom Hayden, famed 1960s anti-war activist, dies at 76 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 09:40:00 +0000 SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Famed ’60s anti-war activist Tom Hayden, whose name became forever linked with the celebrated Chicago 7 trial, Vietnam War protests and his ex-wife actress Jane Fonda, has died. He was 76.

He died on Sunday after a long illness, said his wife, Barbara Williams, noting that he suffered a stroke in 2015.

Hayden, once denounced as a traitor by his detractors, overcame his past and won election to the California Assembly and Senate where he served for almost two decades as a progressive force on such issues as the environment and education. He was the only one of the radical Chicago 7 defendants to win such distinction in the mainstream political world.

He remained an enduring voice against war and spent his later years as a prolific writer and lecturer advocating for reform of America’s political institutions.

Tom Hayden, who was a co-founder of the SDS, and Jane Fonda talk at the home of a friend in London in this 1972. Associated Press

Tom Hayden, who was a co-founder of the Students for a Democratic Society, and Jane Fonda talk at the home of a friend in London in this 1972. Associated Press

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised Hayden. “A political giant and dear friend has passed. Tom Hayden fought harder for what he believed than just about anyone I have known. RIP, Tom,” Garcetti said Sunday night on his Twitter account.

Hayden wrote or edited 19 books, including “Reunion,” a memoir of his path to protest and a rumination on the political upheavals of the ’60s.

“Rarely, if ever, in American history has a generation begun with higher ideals and experienced greater trauma than those who lived fully the short time from 1960 to 1968,” he wrote.

Hayden was there at the start. In 1960, while a student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, he was involved in the formation of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), then dedicated to desegregating the South. By 1962, when he began drafting the landmark Port Huron Statement, SDS and Hayden were dedicated to changing the world.

Hayden was fond of comparing the student movement that followed to the American Revolution and the Civil War.

In 1968, he helped organize anti-war demonstrations during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that turned violent and resulted in the notorious Chicago 7 trial. It began as the Chicago 8 trial, but one defendant, Bobby Seale, was denied the lawyer of his choice, was bound and gagged by the judge and ultimately received a separate trial.

After a circus-like trial, Hayden and three others were convicted of crossing state lines to incite riot. The convictions were later overturned, and an official report deemed the violence “a police riot.”

Thomas Emmet Hayden was born Dec. 11, 1939, in Royal Oak, Michigan, to middle-class parents. At Michigan, he took up political causes including the civil rights movement. He wrote fiery editorials for the campus newspaper and contemplated a career in journalism. But upon graduation, he turned down a newspaper job. As he wrote in his memoir, “I didn’t want to report on the world; I wanted to change it.”

He joined the fledgling Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, went freedom-riding during civil rights protests in the South and was beaten and briefly jailed in Mississippi and Georgia. He married a fellow activist, Sandra “Casey” Cason.

Yearning for a more influential role, Hayden returned to Ann Arbor, where he was enlisted by the SDS to draft the Port Huron Statement, a call to action he hoped would spread to the rest of the country.

In 1965, Hayden made his first visit to North Vietnam with an unauthorized delegation. In 1967, he returned to Hanoi with another group and was asked by North Vietnamese leaders to bring three prisoners of war back to the United States.

Firmly committed to the anti-war movement, Hayden participated in sit-ins at Columbia University, then began traveling the country to promote a rally in Chicago for the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

In the interim, a single event galvanized him — the 1968 assassination of his friend, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, in Los Angeles. “I went from Robert Kennedy’s coffin into a very bleak and bitter political view,” Hayden told the Associated Press in 1988.

In 1971, Hayden met Jane Fonda, a latecomer to the protest movement. After he heard her give an eloquent anti-war speech in 1972, Hayden said they connected and became a couple. He was divorced from Cason. Fonda was divorced from director Roger Vadim and had a daughter, Vanessa Vadim.

Hayden and Fonda were married for 17 years and had a son, Troy.

With heavy financial support from Fonda, Hayden plunged into California politics in the late 1970s. He formed the Campaign for Economic Democracy and was elected to the Assembly in 1982.

Tom Hayden talks about his new book, "Reunion," during a 1988 interview at his office in Santa Monica, Calif. Associated Press/Lennox McLendon

Tom Hayden talks about his new book, “Reunion,” during a 1988 interview at his office in Santa Monica, Calif. Associated Press/Lennox McLendon

In 1992, Hayden won election to the state Senate advocating for environmental and educational issues. By then, he and Fonda were divorced.

Hayden went on to marry actress Barbara Williams, and they had a son, Liam.

In 1994, Hayden was defeated in a run for the state governorship, and he lost a bid to become mayor of Los Angeles.

After leaving public office, Hayden wrote and traveled extensively, lecturing, teaching and speaking out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also an advocate for animals, and in 2012 he lobbied Gov. Jerry Brown to preserve a piece of legislation known as Hayden’s Law, which he had authored to protect shelter animals from premature euthanasia.

]]> 35, 24 Oct 2016 06:18:44 +0000
Aide to addicts struggles with grief, guilt after sibling’s overdose Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Jaime Higgins had spent the past few years learning about the harshest aspects of drug addiction, driven to understand and help her brother Devon free himself from heroin’s grip.

As a coordinator of Operation HOPE at the Scarborough Police Department, she had helped hundreds of other addicts get into rehabilitation programs. Still, she was unprepared for the call she got on the morning of Sept. 27.

Devon Higgins had been found dead on the kitchen floor of his Portland apartment after an apparent heroin overdose. A friend had gone looking for him when he didn’t show up for work. It had been more than a year since he got clean, and just two weeks since he graduated from Drug Treatment Court and the strict supervision and support it had provided for 12 months.

A co-worker at the police department drove Jaime Higgins to Portland. Police officers wouldn’t let her into her brother’s apartment because it was a crime scene. So she stood on the sidewalk, sobbing, surrounded by friends. Cars passing by on Cumberland Avenue slowed as drivers stared at the commotion.

“I was a mess,” Higgins recalled. “I was begging them to let me into the apartment because I didn’t believe it was him. When they finally let me inside, my foot slipped where they had cleaned the floor. That’s when I was like, ‘This is really happening.’ ”

But she didn’t really believe Devon was dead until she viewed his body later at the funeral home.

“I wasn’t prepared to see him like that,” she said. “My brain didn’t want to accept that it was him. I touched him and he was so cold. Then it was like a switch flipped inside me. All of a sudden I was numb. The crying went away and it’s like I’m living someone else’s life.”


Nearly a month after her younger brother’s death, Jaime Higgins is wrestling with grief and guilt that are rooted in everything she knows about the disease of addiction and everything she didn’t know about the choices Devon Higgins was making during his last days. She believes he died after using heroin for the first time in 16 months. She also believes it was laced with carfentanil, an animal tranquilizer that’s 10,000 times stronger than morphine.

“I feel like Devon would have known that his tolerance was down and he would have used the tiniest amount,” said Higgins, who is a crime analyst for the Scarborough department.

Her brother’s death comes as Maine officials anticipate a record number of overdose deaths in 2016. There were 272 overdose deaths statewide in 2015, with the vast majority related to heroin and prescription opioids, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. Through the first six months of 2016, 189 people died from overdoses, up from 126 in the same period in 2015. At that pace, Maine could have 378 overdose deaths this year, a record number.

Devon Higgins’ death rocked the recovery community in Greater Portland, not only because Jaime Higgins had been working hard to help addicts through the year-old police intervention program, but also because Devon Higgins appeared to be a potential success story. He had even volunteered for Operation HOPE and helped to place its 150th person into a drug treatment program.

But after he graduated from drug court on Sept. 14 and forged on without its regular counseling and drug testing, the glow of sobriety quickly faded under the strain of everyday living, his sister said. In recent weeks he had moved out of his mother’s house in Scarborough, where he had converted the garage into his living space, and he was planning to start his own masonry company with a friend.

He also was dealing with a difficult breakup with a girlfriend and with the passing of his 85-year-old grandfather, Kenneth Morse, who died July 27, exactly two months before his grandson. His sister believes it was a combination of factors that led her brother to ignore the healthy coping skills he had learned in recent months and sent him down familiar paths to addictive and dangerous behavior.

“I think it was too many losses and too many changes at the same time,” Higgins said. “He was really struggling and he didn’t share that as much as he should have. I think he was ashamed to tell me he’d already started drinking and had relapsed. He had the resources. He had the support. He should have been able to stay sober.”


But at 29 years old, Devon Higgins had been a drug user for about half of his life. He started using drugs as a teenager who had attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety, his sister said. He eventually graduated from marijuana and alcohol to oxycodone.

“He told me once that he immediately loved oxy because he didn’t have any pain,” she said.

He dropped out of high school, got his general educational development diploma and went to work as a commercial fisherman, an industry where substance abuse is common and illegal drugs are easily accessible, his sister said. Through his early 20s, his family saw little of him, in part because of his job. Then she spotted him about five years ago on the Portland waterfront.

He looked sickly, with acne on his face and scars on his arms. His usually muscular frame, built from years of hauling traps and pulling lines on fishing boats, was noticeably thin.

“What’s going on with you? You look terrible,” she said with a sibling’s frankness. She asked him if he was using heroin. He denied it.

“I knew he was into something, but I didn’t know (before then that) he was into heroin,” Higgins said. “At that time, I was so mad at him for putting himself in that situation. I didn’t want people to know he was an addict. I didn’t understand it was a disease.”

A few months later he called her, admitted that he was hooked and said he was ready to get clean. He stopped using and got on the waiting list for the St. Francis Recovery Center, a residential rehab facility in Auburn. But when a spot opened six weeks later, he declined it.

“He said he was doing fine on his own,” his sister said. She knew better, but she had to wait and hope that he would come back around.

In 2013, he was arrested for drug trafficking, she said. A New York dealer was selling drugs out of her brother’s Portland apartment and giving him free heroin. The sentence included several weeks at the St. Francis center. He returned home, got a job, tried to stay clean, but he eventually slipped up, violated his probation and wound up in drug court, a diversion program that favors treatment over punishment.

For a year, Devon Higgins thrived with one-on-one counseling and group therapy, as well as random drug testing and visits from his probation officer.

“That amount of structure and supervision was really good for him,” Higgins said. “He couldn’t leave Cumberland County without permission.”

It wasn’t easy. His development into adulthood had been stunted by drug use, so when he got sober, he was still a kid in many ways, his sister said. He had to learn how to tie a tie, iron clothes, open a bank account and take on many other grown-up responsibilities.

“In the beginning, it was frustrating because he hadn’t been part of the real world for a long time,” Higgins said.


When Devon Higgins graduated from drug court, the weight of those responsibilities increased without the constant support and supervision. His sister learned later that in the weeks before his death, he had started going to a strip club with a friend, then started drinking, then started using cocaine.

“I think shame kept him from asking for help,” Higgins said. “But there is no shame in this disease. It’s everywhere, and for people to say they don’t want to pay for (rehabilitation programs), we’re already paying for it. And we’re going to keep losing people if nothing changes.”

Higgins compared her experience with her brother’s death to losing someone to suicide.

“There’s some anger,” she said. “I’ve yelled at him a few times, ‘Why the hell did you do this?’ But it’s become more a feeling of guilt, not that I really could have done anything, but that I should have checked in more, that I should have paid more attention. But he had been doing so well, I really didn’t think I had to. That’s the thing, though, you can’t really ever let your guard down.”

There’s also a feeling that, because she works in law enforcement, “this stuff isn’t supposed to happen to me, but that’s just not true. No one is immune.”

Higgins said she’s tired of some politicians who are doing just enough about the drug crisis to keep people off their backs, and others who seem to believe addicts deserve what they get.

“I don’t know how Maine came to this,” she said. “We’re better than this. When a police department has to open its doors to help people get drug treatment, something is wrong with your state.”

Higgins has been working part time as a crime analyst after undergoing major abdominal surgery in July. She anticipates returning to full-time duty in November, and hopes to resume working with Operation HOPE soon.

“It’s really hard to do that work now,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll get back into it eventually, but I feel like if I couldn’t help my brother, I shouldn’t be helping anyone right now.”


]]> 18, 24 Oct 2016 15:15:12 +0000
Two challenge suspended probate judge in York County Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Embattled York County Probate Judge Robert Nadeau, who is currently suspended from the bench, is facing two challengers in a race for the part-time elected position.

Attorneys Bryan Chabot of Wells and Bernard Broder of Old Orchard Beach say they are challenging Nadeau because they each want to restore dignity and respect to the busy court, which oversees wills and the distribution of estates. The race will be decided by York County voters on Nov. 8.

In July, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ordered Nadeau be suspended from the bench for 30 days for improperly using his judicial position to try to influence the outcome of a personal legal case in which he was seeking a protection from harassment order against his former girlfriend. Nadeau wrote a threatening letter to the ex-girlfriend’s attorney in that 2013 case, mentioning his position as a judge and that things could “become very bad for your client, you and your law firm.”

The justices of the high court cited the discipline that Nadeau received in two prior cases as part of the reason for the new public censure and suspension. He has been publicly reprimanded multiple times in the past and was suspended from his judicial duties for 30 days in 2007 for lying about campaign opponents.

Nadeau also has faced complaints that he changed the probate court schedule last year to hear fewer cases after the York County commissioners refused to give him the raise he requested. He has denied those accusations.

The county commissioners did give Nadeau a raise last year, voting to pay him $54,206 a year for working two days per week. They rejected, however, his proposal to work three days per week for $90,000 or five days per week for $120,000.

Nadeau was ordered to begin serving his latest suspension on Oct. 3 without pay, which allowed York County officials to use the salary he would have received from the part-time position to hire a substitute judge to do the work.

Nadeau was first elected York County probate judge in 1996 and was re-elected in 2000 and 2004. He was defeated in 2008 after his earlier suspension, but was elected again in 2012.

Nadeau, 61, of Biddeford, says he is seeking another term because the probate court needs an experienced judge with the patience, compassion and responsiveness to hear sensitive cases and handle a busy docket. He has served roughly 20,000 people in his career, he says.

“The ability to deliver meaningful, effective, efficient public service to the children, families and incapacitated adults who depend on the York County Probate Court requires experience, compassion, hard work and the courage to deal with county politicians who know very little about the probate court and are so fiscally tight that they are unwilling to properly fund badly needed judicial time, thereby doing more harm than good,” he said. “I treat everyone who comes to court with attention, respect, care and clear solutions.”

Nadeau said his current suspension involves a matter of private litigation in his personal life and had nothing to do with any cases or decision he handled as a judge. He said his first suspension in 2007 was related to a 2004 campaign ad and resulted in no lost court time.

Chabot, 37, is a lifelong resident of York County and works as an attorney at a private practice in Sanford. He said he is running for the judge position to restore integrity to the probate court.

“I really feel the residents of York County aren’t being served in the way they should be,” he said. “This is a busy election season and this is a race that flies under the radar. It has huge consequences. It deals with sensitive cases. Those are intimate issues and they need proper attention.”

Chabot, who served in Bosnia and Iraq with the Army, says he has handled felony jury trials and appeared in district, superior and probate courts. He said that experience and his character make him the best candidate for the job.

“To me, there are three things a judge needs to have: education, trial experience and character,” he said.

Broder, who has a private law practice in Gorham, said he believes it’s time for a change in the probate court given Nadeau’s current suspension.

“I believe his ethics and qualifications are in question and the people deserve better than that,” he said. “It’s creating delays in people’s access to the court.”

Broder, 58, said he believes his education and experience lend themselves well to the probate judge position. Throughout his career, he has focused on public service work, including involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He also has worked with people with substance abuse issues. If elected, Broder said he will close his private practice to dedicate more time to the probate court.

Each of the state’s 16 counties has its own probate court with an elected register of probate and judge of probate in each one.

All other state judges – in District Court, Superior Court and the Supreme Judicial Court – are nominated by the governor and then vetted by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee before being appointed for seven-year terms by the state Senate.

The Judiciary Branch does not oversee the state’s probate courts, except in appeals and in disciplinary matters such as Nadeau’s.

]]> 12, 23 Oct 2016 23:22:24 +0000
Two compete for House District 39 seat left vacant by Diane Russell Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 A former Peaks Island council member is facing off against the local Republican Party chairman for the open House District 39 seat left vacant by Diane Russell, who lost a hotly contested Democratic primary for an open Maine Senate seat in June.

Republican Peter Doyle, who has run for state office three times, faces Democrat Mike Sylvester, a former Peaks Island council member and owner of Mike’s Carts on Peaks Island.

Sylvester, who said he has 20 years of experience organizing workers in labor unions, said he is driven by the belief that the government should serve the people.

“I live in a district with some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest people in Maine,” he said. “After 20 years advocating for workers, negotiating with some of the biggest companies in the world, I want to find solutions to problems that are being ignored.”

Sylvester is a publicly funded candidate under Maine’s Clean Election Act, which limits private contributions and provides $5,000 to $30,000 in matching funds to candidates for the House.

He said he supports the initiatives to raise the minimum wage, legalize marijuana for recreational use and background checks for privately sold firearms in Maine.

Sylvester said he doesn’t think the state is doing enough to respond to the spike in overdoses and address addiction.

“Treatment is the answer. I want to see more public health clinics like India Street, not less,” he said.

Doyle, who is traditionally financing his run, said he’s running to “make some measurable improvements” in making government work for specific communities. He is chairman of the Portland Republican City Committee.

“For example, I’d like to see what kind of reforms I could work towards to allow older folks to be able to stay in their homes and connect them with the necessary government services to support that decision,” he said. “I’d also like to apply thoughtful, intelligent, and creative (rather than knee-jerk and impractical) solutions to the problems we face. I think my analytical and sensible approach will help move that ball forward.”

Doyle said he did not support the ballot initiatives for legalizing marijuana use, raising the minimum wage or having background checks for privately sold firearms in Maine. He said he could support some form of background checks, however.

“If it could be done in a way that doesn’t criminalize the ordinary transfers between otherwise law-abiding gun owners (e.g., while lending a firearm while going hunting or moving the contents of their homes), I’d be open to it,” he said.

He said the Maine Legislature has taken some positive measures on treating addiction, such as adding law enforcement and increasing beds in treatment centers.

“This is a really tough issue not only in Maine but in other states that have been grappling with this tragedy,” Doyle said. “I think we need to continue to move in that direction and take our cues from our own and other states’ successes. In short, find out what works and do more of it.”


]]> 2 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 19:49:38 +0000
Maine ATM network slow to embrace chips Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The deadline has passed for ATM operators in the MasterCard network to install microchip readers in their machines or accept future liability for fraudulent activity involving chip-embedded cards.

But a Portland Press Herald analysis of MasterCard network ATMs in Portland, Lewiston-Auburn, Augusta and Bangor found that just over 11 percent of machines have been outfitted with the more secure chip readers.

That low percentage leaves too many Mainers vulnerable to ATM card “skimmers” and other methods of ATM fraud, a consumer watchdog group said.

“The 12 percent of Portland ATMs that are now chip-enabled is right in line with other cities around the country – but that is an unacceptably low number,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of Massachusetts-based consumer watchdog service Consumer World. “Bank customers deserve to have this highest level of security at every ATM they use.”

The slow changeover to chip-enabled ATMs reflects a backlog of orders for the hardware to convert ATMs and the accompanying software upgrades, according to a representative of Maine’s banking industry. Until they are converted, if a bank, retailer or other ATM operator within the MasterCard network fails to install a chip reader, and a fraudulent withdrawal is made using a chip-embedded card, it’s the ATM operator that suffers the loss.


There are two major card processors for ATM transactions in the U.S.: Visa and MasterCard. Visa network ATMs are labeled with the Visa and Plus brands, and MasterCard network ATMs are labeled with the MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus brands.

MasterCard set an Oct. 1 deadline for ATM operators in its network to upgrade their machines with chip readers or accept liability for future fraudulent transactions involving chip-embedded cards. Visa set its deadline for a year later, in October 2017. The card processors set a similar deadline for retailers to upgrade their point-of-sale systems to chip readers in October 2015.

Historically, Visa and MasterCard have accepted financial responsibility for ATM fraud in their respective networks, but they have argued that it is unfair in situations involving lax security on an ATM owner’s part.

A Press Herald analysis found that:

Among the 815 Portland-area ATMs in the MasterCard network, only 96 are equipped with chip readers. That works out to 11.8 percent.

 The Lewiston-Auburn area was slightly better than Portland, with 13.9 percent of MasterCard-network ATMs containing chip readers.

 Only 8.8 percent have chip readers in the Augusta area, and 7.8 percent have them in the Bangor area.

Percentages for the Visa network are harder to gauge, although the Press Herald did determine that there are 70 Visa ATMs in the Portland area with chip readers, 39 in Lewison-Auburn, six in Bangor and none in Augusta.

The most prevalent form of ATM fraud involves devices called “skimmers.” According to cybersecurity expert and blogger Brian Krebs of, a skimmer is a device that is affixed to the card slot of an ATM that surreptitiously reads and records sensitive data from the magnetic stripe of any card inserted into the slot.

A skimmer generally is used in combination with a tiny camera placed somewhere on the ATM that is pointed at the machine’s personal identification number pad. With the card data and the PIN acquired, the thief has everything he needs to make a dummy card and use it to withdraw the victim’s cash.

In June, three men were arrested by investigators from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly skimming and cloning credit card information around southern and midcoast Maine.

It can take weeks or months for victims of ATM fraud to recover their stolen cash, because card processors generally do not reimburse a victim until after the theft has been fully investigated by law enforcement. That’s a stark contrast from credit card fraud victims, who usually are reimbursed quickly.

However, skimmers don’t work if the card has an embedded chip and the ATM has a chip reader, Dworsky said. Consumers can’t necessarily tell if an ATM has a chip reader just by looking at it, but there are locators on both the Visa and MasterCard websites for finding chip-reading ATMs in any city or town.

“With so many reports of criminals using skimmers to steal ATM card numbers, it is surprising that banks have been so slow in completing upgrades to their systems, whether or not required by the card networks,” he said.

Financial institutions in Maine are working as fast as they can to install chip readers in all of their ATMs, but the process takes time, said Chris Pinkham, president of the Maine Bankers Association.

Chip readers at retailer checkout aisles are relatively simple and inexpensive to install compared with those inside ATMs, Pinkham said. The machines must be opened up and special hardware and software installed by a qualified technician. All of that must occur while security personnel are on hand to ensure no one uses the opportunity to steal money from the disassembled ATM, he said.

Right now, there is a long waiting list for ATM operators in Maine to have their systems upgraded, Pinkham said.

“They’ve ordered them, and they’re in the queue, because of the giant volume of replacement,” he said. “You’ve got a software component and a hardware component, and the back-order is real.”

While the upgrade process continues, consumers in Maine still will be able to use any ATM regardless of whether it has a chip reader installed, Pinkham said.

“That’s a liability standard and not an accessibility issue,” he said.

John Murphy, president and CEO of the Maine Credit Union League, said credit unions in Maine are making significant progress toward upgrading their ATMs with chip readers. In addition, they have been installing anti-skimming devices to thwart fraudsters, he said.

“Over half of our 255 ATMs have already been upgraded and I anticipate that all planned upgrades will take place prior to the October 2017 (Visa) compliance date,” Murphy said.


]]> 12, 24 Oct 2016 08:07:44 +0000
Maine towns seek to delay marijuana clubs, stores ahead of Question 1 vote Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Maine cities and towns are moving to enact moratoriums on marijuana social clubs and retail stores in anticipation of the passage of referendum Question 1 on the ballot in November.

Although other states have legalized marijuana, Maine could become the first state to establish clubs where people can consume recreational marijuana in a social setting. That dynamic, as well as regulating where marijuana should be sold, is what towns are debating, since they have no existing rules or zoning ordinances.

The town of Gray last week adopted a six-month moratorium, retroactive to Sept. 20, that would allow the town to establish regulations on clubs and other retail establishments where marijuana could be sold or consumed. The City Council in Brewer also voted unanimously this month to enact a six-month ban.

And the city of Westbrook and town of Cumberland will each discuss similar moratoriums at meetings Monday.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said the organization doesn’t keep any list of what towns adopt or discuss. He did, however, say that the association’s legal department has fielded a number of questions from municipal officials across the state about Question 1, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Maine and also has provisions for marijuana to be sold at retail outlets and consumed at clubs.

“Question 1 provides municipalities with a fair amount of control over marijuana availability and siting of various establishment,” he said. “If it passes, we believe towns and cities that want to will take advantage of those provisions. We expect a lot of action on the local level if Question 1 passes.”

Supporters of legalization aren’t concerned about the potential impact of local regulations.

“We welcome the discussion that towns are having regarding regulating marijuana,” said David Boyer of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group supporting Question 1. “This initiative has a strong local-control component to it, something the Maine Municipal Association has acknowledged. We are leaving it up to towns to decide if they think marijuana should be sold by licensed legal businesses or on the black market. We hope towns see the benefits of regulating marijuana, which has worked in other states.”

One of the major reasons for including language to allow social clubs is to appeal to tourists. Colorado, which has seen an increase in tourism since it legalized marijuana, does not have social clubs, and many who travel there to consume marijuana don’t always have a place to do it. However, since its law passed, private, members-only clubs have sprung up in the state.

Scott Gagnon, spokesman for Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, the group opposing Question 1, said he’s still working to persuade Mainers to vote “no,” but that he’d be “derelict” not to consider the possibility that the referendum will pass. He said there will no doubt be many towns that don’t want that kind of tourism.

“We will certainly provide support to municipalities that want to create local restrictions, and we have heard from a number of municipal folks who are interested in talking to us about that,” Gagnon said.

Towns are not yet moving to establish outright bans on marijuana clubs or stores; they are only considering moratoriums to allow time to discuss whether local restrictions make sense. In some cases, that might mean allowing clubs or retail shops in certain zones. However, towns will be permitted to pass outright bans, although private marijuana use and possession would still be allowed. Towns generally have flexibility to place reasonable restrictions on where certain businesses can be located.

Conrad said Question 1 addresses municipal approval for clubs and retail stores, but the language is ambiguous.

“But we believe that means that towns and cities that want to regulate, or not allow social clubs and retail sales at all, must take action in those regards,” he said. “That is what we’re advising members when they contact us, as several have. In other words, if a town does not take action, the presumption will be that marijuana clubs and sales are legal within its boundaries with few restrictions.”

Westbrook City Manager Jerre Bryant, explaining why the matter is on the council agenda for Monday, said the city wanted to be prepared if Question 1 passes.

“If indeed the state referendum on recreational marijuana passes, where does that leave us from a regulatory standpoint?” he said.

In an Oct. 3 letter to Cumberland Town Manager William Shane, attorney Alyssa Tibbetts said many towns will likely consider moratoriums if the referendum is approved.

“We would be happy to draft something for the town; however, it would not need to be enacted until after the November 8 election if there have been no inquiries or proposed applications made that include retail marijuana use,” Tibbetts wrote.

Cumberland town councilors will discuss the matter Monday, but they doesn’t mean they will vote.

Boyer said towns don’t need to rush, because it’s likely that the full implementation of marijuana legalization, particularly the establishment of retail shops and social clubs, won’t happen for at least nine months because the state needs to establish a licensing process.

Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall said in an email Friday that his staff is prepared to lead a discussion about local regulations if Question 1 passes, but there will be sufficient time for that after Nov. 8. He said there has been interest from people in town about leasing space for a retail operation.

Conrad said some towns may want to enact moratoriums as a way to “send a broad message that marijuana in general is not welcome in that community.”

A Portland Press Herald poll of 505 likely voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center last month found that 53 percent were in favor of Question 1 while 38 percent were opposed.

Recreational marijuana is legal in four states – Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska – and eight additional states, including Maine, will vote on legalization this year.

The rush to adopt emergency moratoriums on marijuana clubs and stores is in some ways similar to how towns responded to the 2011 passage of a law that lifted the ban on fireworks in Maine. Many communities have since passed local ordinances that prohibit the use of fireworks, leading to confusion among some, especially tourists, about where they can be set off.


]]> 72, 24 Oct 2016 20:32:06 +0000
Three seek to succeed Sen. Alfond in District 27 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Democratic state Rep. Benjamin Chipman is being challenged by a moderate Republican and a self-described socialist to represent the eastern part of Portland in the Maine Senate.

Republican Adam Pontius said he is running to give voters an opportunity to cast a ballot for someone unencumbered by ideological and personal battles with Gov. Paul LePage, who has taken aim at Maine’s largest city over its welfare programs.

Green-Independent and self-described socialist Seth Baker said he is running with the hope of creating a movement that will eventually lead to a $15-an-hour minimum wage and single-payer health care system.

Chipman said he will help tackle Maine’s opiate epidemic, while also protecting state funding coming to the city. Neither Baker nor Pontius has run for political office before and Chipman said his experience will make him a more effective senator.

None of the candidates supports LePage’s goal of eliminating the state income tax. They all support legalizing marijuana and background checks for privately owned firearm sales in Maine. And they don’t believe the state is doing enough to combat the opiate epidemic.

The District 27 seat is currently held by Justin Alfond, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.


Baker said the most important issue of his campaign is addressing the cost of living in Portland, as well as other communities.

He supports a ballot question to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, but he doesn’t think it goes far enough. He believes the minimum should be $15 an hour – an idea that was rejected by Portland voters in a citywide referendum last year.

He would also use his position as a state senator to persuade local municipalities to adopt some form of rent control, especially in Portland.

“I want to be a bully pulpit for everyday working people in Augusta,” he said.

He believes the only way to rein in health care costs is through a signal-payer system, which would eliminate insurance companies. Absent a change nationally, he pointed to Colorado as an example of a state trying to adopt a single-payer system.

Baker said the state needs to change its approach to drug addiction. In addition to increasing funding for treatment, rehabilitation and needle exchange programs, the state should remove all penalties for drug use and possession, he said.

Regarding income taxes, Baker believes that the state needs a more progressive system that provides relief to the middle class by taxing higher-income earners at a higher rate. Income tax should be eliminated for people making under $30,000, while a higher rate should be adopted for incomes above $100,000, he said.

“I strongly believe higher-income earners should pay more of the tax burden and starting the top bracket at six figures makes sense for Maine as it’s approximately double the median income,” he said.

So far, Baker has raised $570 for his campaign.


Chipman said his top priority is combating opiate addiction by expanding MaineCare.

LePage has vetoed five previous attempts to expand the MaineCare program, prompting advocates to begin collecting signatures for a statewide vote on the issue. However, Chipman hopes the Legislature will be able to muster enough support in the next session to overturn another LePage veto. If there is not enough support for a full expansion in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, he would like to see a limited expansion that would extend coverage to uninsured people struggling with addiction.

“I think we need more facilities and more beds,” he said. “We need to make sure everyone has the coverage they need to get into treatment centers.”

Once people kick their addiction, the state should help them find a sober living environment to reduce the chances of a relapse, he said.

“Sometimes it’s something as simple as helping them with a security deposit so they can live in a sober house,” he said.

Chipman also believes that schools should focus more of the anti-drug curriculum on the dangers of opiates.

Although he would like to work with the governor, Chipman said he is skeptical that can occur. Instead, he is looking to circumvent the governor by working on issues that affect rural and urban areas.

Chipman said he would continue fighting to make sure that the city of Portland, which contributes more income and sales taxes to the state than any other community, receives its fair share of state funding for education, revenue sharing and social services.

Having experience as a legislator is important, especially during this election, he said.

“We’re losing both senators at the same time as well as members of the House,” he said. “I’m the only one in the race who has that experience. I think we need that in order to be successful.”

Chipman is a publicly funded candidate under Maine’s Clean Election Act, which limits private contributions and provides $20,000 to $60,000 in matching funds to candidates for the Senate.


Pontius said tax reform and economic development, as well as tackling the state’s opioid crisis, would be his top priorities.

Although he agrees that Maine’s budget relies too heavily on income taxes, Pontius believes that LePage’s call to eliminate the income tax goes too far.

He thinks the state should increase the sales tax on tourism-related industries, such as dining and lodging, in order to reduce the income tax. That would bring in more revenue from the 33 million tourists who visited Maine in 2015, using the roads, parks, public transportation and other services, he said.

As senator, he would encourage other legislators in Greater Portland to look at economic development on a regional level, as well as encouraging neighboring communities to consider regionalizing services, which could lead to lower costs. Improving public transportation from Portland to surrounding communities is also needed, he said.

“This is absolutely the most economically dynamic part of the state and that’s what I would try to focus on when talking with the governor and other members of my party,” he said.

Pontius said he opposes the state ballot question to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, calling it “too far, too fast.” He fears it will hurt small businesses and possibly lead to the elimination of tipping at restaurants, which could hurt wait staff.

So far, Pontius has raised no money for this election and hasn’t really been knocking on doors. That’s because he is working full time on a statewide ballot initiative to bring ranked-choice voting to Maine.

Pontius, who worked on independent Eliot Culter’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, believes that ranked-choice voting would improve the political dialogue, especially when it comes to primaries, which have been increasingly dominated by the more extreme ideologies and personality conflicts in both parties.

“It’s not a panacea, but it’s certainly a part of that solution,” Pontius said.


]]> 5 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 20:50:34 +0000
Democrat Mark Dion virtually uncontested for Senate District 28 seat Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Democratic state Rep. Mark Dion of Portland is running a virtually uncontested race for the District 28 seat in the Maine Senate, representing the western portion of the city and part of Westbrook.

Republican Karen Usher of Westbrook is listed on the ballot as Dion’s challenger, but the 49-year-old declined to be interviewed for this story, describing herself as a “placeholder candidate.”

Dion is a 61-year-old lawyer and former Cumberland County sheriff who has been an outspoken proponent of legalizing marijuana. He supports background checks for private sales of firearms and increasing the minimum wage.

He believes the state should lower, but not eliminate, income taxes by expanding the list of goods and services eligible for the sales tax.

Regarding the opiate crisis, he thinks the state is focusing too many resources on law enforcement and not enough on treatment.

Dion won a competitive three-way Democratic primary in June. He would replace Democratic Sen. Anne Haskell, who is retiring from politics.


]]> 22, 23 Oct 2016 20:53:43 +0000
Rep. Denise Harlow running unopposed in House District 36 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Rep. Denise Harlow, D-Portland, is running unopposed for a fourth term in House District 36.

“I would like to continue the work I’ve done for six years to protect the environment and advocate for my constituents,” said Harlow, who serves on the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee.

Harlow works in customer service at L.L. Bean and has a small pet care service. She was an Olympic marathon trials qualifier and is a board member and treasurer of Riverton Community Association.

She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University.

]]> 1 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 20:37:38 +0000
Rep. Richard Farnsworth running unopposed in House District 37 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, is running unopposed for a fourth nonconsecutive term in House District 37.

Farnsworth, the former executive director of Woodfords Family Services in Portland, sits on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

He said he’s running because he has “grave concerns” about the current administration in Augusta, such as “oppressive policies” for citizens living below the poverty level, the underfunding and elimination of services for people with substance abuse problems, and the reduction of state employee numbers to the point where state agencies struggle to fulfill their missions. He also said he wanted to continue working to establish pre-K programs.

]]> 1 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 20:34:26 +0000
Democrat Talbot Ross running unopposed in House District 40 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Only one candidate is running for House District 40 in Portland, although two names will appear on the ballot.

Democrat Rachel Talbot Ross is unopposed in the race to represent District 40, which includes portions of the East Bayside, West Bayside, Parkside and Oakdale neighborhoods. Ross is the longtime head of the Portland chapter of the NAACP and formerly served as Portland’s director of equal opportunity and multicultural affairs until her abrupt departure last year.

She won a three-way Democratic primary race in June to fill the seat of Rep. Benjamin Chipman, a Democrat who is running for Senate District 27.

The Republican candidate in District 40, Carol Taylor, withdrew from the race Sept. 30. However, Taylor’s name will still appear on the ballot because her withdrawal came less than 70 days before the election.


]]> 12 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 20:57:07 +0000
Donald Trump’s eldest to campaign in Maine Mon, 24 Oct 2016 04:46:30 +0000 Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to be in Maine in a few days, campaigning for his father at stops in Lewiston, Auburn and Gray, WCSH-TV reported early Monday.

He is the oldest child of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Efforts by the Portland Press Herald to reach the Trump campaign for the details and the exact timing of Trump Jr.’s visit were unsuccessful Sunday night.

The candidate has visited Maine four times during the campaign, most recently at a rally in Bangor on Oct. 15.

Trump’s son Eric, his third-oldest child, and his daughter-in-law Lara visited Maine on Oct. 6, when they toured an apple orchard in Turner with Gov. Paul LePage, who has been vocal in supporting the Republican candidate. They also made campaign stops in Auburn and Bangor.

Both Trump and Hillary Clinton have spent an unusual amount of time and resources campaigning in Maine this election season, especially in the more rural and northern 2nd Congressional District. While the Democratic nominee appears to have a lead in the 1st District, neck-and-neck polling in the 2nd District suggests that Trump could win one of Maine’s four Electoral College votes.

]]> 1 Mon, 24 Oct 2016 01:03:38 +0000
Augusta shop owner left store’s trove with his church before he died Mon, 24 Oct 2016 02:25:04 +0000 For a salesman, Levi “Sonny” Chavarie, who died Oct. 13 at the age of 91, sure liked to give things away.

Generous to the end and beyond, Chavarie, owner of Sonny’s Museum and Rock Shop in downtown Augusta, left the contents of his store to his church, Manchester Community Church. While the details still need to be worked out, the Rev. Donald Davenport said Chavarie, an active and outgoing church member and an honorary deacon, made it clear to him that it was his intention to leave to the church the contents of the store, which include a huge assortment of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, figurines and other collectibles.

Davenport said he’s not sure what the church will do with the unique array of items, but it would likely sell them in some way with the money going to the church in Chavarie’s name.

“There is a personal desire to use some of the money to help people, because that’s what he did,” Davenport said of the Winthrop resident. “He was very generous. If I needed to get boots or a jacket or something for a child, he’s the guy I went to and he always came through. He was a compassionate giver. He helped a lot of people, including the church.”

Among his donations to the church was a new set of granite steps, which he donated in memory of his late wife, Priscilla.

Chavarie, in a previous interview, also indicated to a reporter and told his landlord Richard Parkhurst and others that his plan for the store’s inventory was to give it to his church, which those who knew him said was not at all out of character for him.

“He liked to give things away. He told me, ‘When you give things away, they come back to you double or triple,'” said Bill Pettitt, president of Kennebec Rocks and Minerals Club, of which Sonny and Priscilla were founders. “He was very generous to the club. He donated door prizes for (an annual club) show. And he always donated in Priscilla’s name.”

Janine Collins of Winthrop bonded with Chavarie after she came into his store about five years ago, for a time doing his financial books for him. She said she was glad she could be with him when he passed.

“I just loved the man. He was like a father to me,” she said. “He had such a generous nature. He gave everybody who came into the store a wishing stone. He wanted them to smile, even if they didn’t purchase anything from him.”

She said she would love to see the Water Street store continue to operate, but she doubts that will happen.

Chavarie had tried to sell the store and its contents for at least a year but found no takers.

“It would have made him happy to see it go on, to see his legacy go on,” Collins said. “The thing that is sad, the stories that go with the stuff that is in that store, those will be gone.”

Parkhurst, who Chavarie had said gave him a very good lease deal on his street-level retail space, said Chavarie was running the shop right up until about a week before he passed away. He said the two had talked in September about renewing his lease for another year, but had not yet done so.

He said he hasn’t heard anything about what is going to happen to the shop.

“I believe he left everything to his church,” Parkhurst said. “I haven’t heard from them. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their space as long as they want to keep it.”

Parkhurst said Chavarie “was a great guy. I loved him.”

He said if the rock shop never reopens and its inventory is moved out, he’s got other potential retail tenants interested in the Water Street space.

For many years Chavarie’s late wife, Priscilla, who died in 2010, ran the former Winthrop Mineral Shop on U.S. Route 202, first with her previous husband, Stearns J. Bryant, until his death in 1973 and then with Chavarie until the shop burned in 1988.

Priscilla was a rock-collecting enthusiast and renowned expert in the field. Sonny got into rocks after he met her. They both shared their knowledge and passion for minerals with children.

“An era has gone by, that’s how I feel with Sonny and Priscilla gone,” said Pettitt, who knew them both for years and has his own small store, Pettitt’s Picks, in New Sharon. “They set the example about educating people about minerals. I try to do things I think Priscilla or Sonny would have done in my store. When I first met him, I was bringing rocks to show Priscilla, when she couldn’t walk to mine anymore. They got along really good for such different personalities like that.”

In a November 2015 interview, Chavarie said Priscilla loved to buy rocks, fossils and related items, and he liked to sell.

He opened Sonny’s Museum and Rock Shop in 2011 and decorated much of the front of the store with photographs and newspaper articles about Priscilla.

In 2012 a lawsuit was filed by members of his late wife’s family, claiming he didn’t have the right to sell the items he was selling at the shop because they belonged to her estate, not him.

An out-of-court agreement signed by both parties about a month after the lawsuit was filed stipulates that the inventory of the store was Chavarie’s to sell.

Services were held for Chavarie last week at Manchester Community Church. He will be buried at Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery. He served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946, receiving an honorable discharge.

Pettitt said Chavarie used to tell him that after Priscilla died, he was just hanging on waiting to rejoin his wife.

“I’d talk to him and tell him, ‘Sonny, Priscilla would like you to keep doing what you love,'” Pettitt said of Chavarie continuing to run his shop. “The store kept him going until he could join Priscilla.”


]]> 2, 23 Oct 2016 23:27:15 +0000
Ballot selfies: Allowed or not allowed? Mon, 24 Oct 2016 02:22:37 +0000 Secrecy in the voting booth has become a thing of the past for those ready to share their views and daily lives on social media, but laws nationwide are mixed on whether voters are allowed to take pictures of themselves voting and their ballots. How states handle the question:


CONNECTICUT: No law bans ballot selfies, according to Secretary of State Denise Merrill. But election moderators have discretion to prohibit activity “that threatens the orderly process of voting or the privacy of another voter’s ballot.”

MAINE: The secretary of state discourages ballot selfies because there’s a ban on making unauthorized ballot copies, but there’s no law against voters posting photos of their marked ballots.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston last month upheld a decision that a ban was unconstitutional, saying it suppresses a large swath of political speech and there was no evidence to support the state’s concerns.

RHODE ISLAND: The Board of Elections adopted new rules in time for November’s election that allow for selfie-taking inside polling places. The updated regulations allow voters to take photos as long as they don’t show another person’s ballot.

VERMONT: No rules regarding photos in polling places. Clerks are encouraged to adopt specific rules for their polling places to maintain order, according to Jim Condos, a spokesman for the secretary of state.


MASSACHUSETTS: Taking a photo of a completed ballot in a polling location is banned in Massachusetts. But the state’s top election official, Secretary William Galvin, says there’s little the state can do to prevent it. Photos of mailed ballots are also banned.

NEW JERSEY: Law prohibits voters from showing their ballot to others. A pending legislative measure would allow voters to take photos of their own ballots while in the voting booth and share them on social media.

]]> 1, 23 Oct 2016 22:33:50 +0000
Clinton campaign looks toward helping Democrats in close races Mon, 24 Oct 2016 02:00:49 +0000 DURHAM, N.C. — Newly confident and buoyant in the polls, Hillary Clinton is looking past Donald Trump while widening her mission to include helping Democrats seize the Senate and chip away at the Republican-controlled House.

Though Trump’s campaign insisted Sunday it was premature to count him out, it’s Clinton whose path to winning the White House has only grown wider in the race’s final weeks. Even longtime Republican strongholds such as Utah and Arizona suddenly appear within her reach on Nov. 8, enticing Democrats to campaign hard in territory they haven’t won for decades.

The shifting political map has freed Clinton and her well-funded campaign to spend time and money helping other Democrats in competitive races. Clinton said she didn’t “even think about responding” to Trump anymore and would instead spend the final weeks on the road “emphasizing the importance of electing Democrats down the ballot.”

“We’re running a coordinated campaign, working hard with gubernatorial, Senate and House candidates,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager.

And for good reason.

After a merciless two-year campaign, the next president will face the daunting task of governing a bitterly divided nation. If Clinton wins, her prospects for achieving her goals will be greatly diminished unless her victory is accompanied by major Democratic gains in Congress.

“We’ve got to do the hard and maybe most important work of healing, healing our country,” Clinton said Sunday at Union Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

Campaigning in North Carolina, where Democrats hope to unseat Republican Sen. Richard Burr, Clinton’s argument appeared to rest on the hopes that voters offended by Trump would vote against Burr, too.

For Democrats, there’s another reason to try to run up the score. With Trump warning he may contest the race’s outcome if he loses, Clinton’s campaign is hoping for an overwhelming Democratic victory that would undermine any attempt by Trump to claim the election had been stolen from him.

In a rare admission of fallibility by the typically boastful Trump, his campaign acknowledged he’s trailing Clinton as Election Day nears.

“We are behind. She has some advantages,” Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said. Still, she added, “We’re not giving up. We know we can win this.”

Conway laid out in granular detail Trump’s potential path to winning: victories in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio, to start. If Trump prevents Arizona and Georgia from falling to Democrats and adds in some combination of Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, he could reach the 270 electoral votes needed, Conway said.

It won’t be easy. A current Associated Press analysis of polling, demographic trends and other campaign data rates Virginia as solidly Democratic, while Colorado, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania are all leaning Democratic. Arizona, remarkably, is a toss-up.

If Clinton wins, Democrats would need a net gain of four Senate seats to retake the majority. House control would be much harder, considering Republicans currently enjoy their largest House majority since 1931. Democrats would need a 30-seat gain, a feat they haven’t accomplished in roughly four decades.

Clinton’s nascent focus on helping fellow Democrats comes with an inherent contradiction. For months, she deliberately avoided the strategy employed by other Democrats of trying to saddle all Republicans with an unpopular Trump. In August, she said Trump represented the “radical fringe,” rather than the mainstream of the Republican Party.

“We have not run this campaign as a campaign against the GOP with the big broad brush – we’ve run it against Donald Trump,” Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, said in a weekend interview.

Painting Trump as beyond the typical Republican Party was a strategy intended to help Clinton win over voters who identify as Republicans but dislike Trump. Yet it’s been a major sore point for Democratic campaign groups, illustrated by an internal Democratic National Committee email in May that was hacked and later disclosed by WikiLeaks.

“They don’t want us to tie Trump to other Republicans because they think it makes him look normal,” top DNC official Luis Miranda wrote under the subject line “Problem with HFA,” an acronym for Hillary For America.

Andrea Bozek of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said Clinton’s last-minute push to aid Democrats was insufficient to make up for her party’s shortfalls in recruiting competitive candidates this year.

“Democrats have relied on political gravity from the presidential race to carry them across the finish line,” Bozek said.

]]> 3, 23 Oct 2016 22:09:19 +0000
Rhode Island women march in defense of yoga pants Mon, 24 Oct 2016 01:39:44 +0000 BARRINGTON, R.I. — Hundreds of women, girls and other supporters proudly donned their yoga pants Sunday as they peacefully paraded around the Rhode Island neighborhood of a man who derided the attire as tacky and ridiculous.

Alan Sorrentino said the response to his letter to the editor, printed in The Barrington Times on Wednesday, has been “vicious” and that he’s received death threats. He maintained the letter was meant to be humorous.

But organizers said even if Sorrentino’s letter was meant to be a joke, the message is clear.

“Women are fed up with the notion that we have to dress for people’s visual pleasure,” said Jamie Burke, parade organizer.

The so-called yoga pants parade wasn’t a protest against Sorrentino specifically but part of a bigger movement against misogyny and men dictating how women should dress, organizers said.

More than 300 people – many of them women and young girls – came out for the social media-driven event in the affluent, coastal town of Barrington, wearing yoga pants of different styles and colors.

Participants also collected personal hygiene items for the Sojourner House, a local domestic violence organization. Marchers ended with a group yoga session.

Sorrentino, in his letter, described yoga pants as the worst thing in women’s fashion since the miniskirt. He argued that they belong in the yoga studio and that women over age 20 shouldn’t wear them in public.

]]> 3, 23 Oct 2016 21:59:23 +0000
Skowhegan will vote on elected versus appointed town officials Mon, 24 Oct 2016 01:26:22 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — Voters will decide in a referendum vote Nov. 8 whether they want to continue electing their town clerk, town treasurer and road commissioner, or whether they want to have them appointed by the town manager.

Selectmen voted 5-0 in February to present the question on the November ballot and not the town meeting voting ballot in June, when fewer people tend to go to the polls.

Some residents, selectmen and town officials have suggested that Skowhegan voters are smart enough to pick their own officials in town-wide voting, but others said it is time to plan for the future and structure town government in a more orderly fashion by having officials appointed and therefore more accountable.

Board Chairman Donald Skillings said earlier this year that he was asked to bring the issue to the board, noting concerns that in future elections a person who is not qualified could unseat Greg Dore, the elected road commissioner, or Gail Pelotte, the elected town clerk and treasurer.

Some say that from a managerial aspect, it is easier for a town manager to manage an appointed employee versus an elected one.

Dore, 60, has been Skowhegan’s elected road commissioner for 23 years. He has been challenged for the job every three years but has prevailed each time.

Pelotte, 55, was re-elected unopposed for a three-year term in 2015. She is in her third three-year term.

]]> 0 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 21:41:38 +0000
Authorities fire on drone at Dakota pipeline protest Mon, 24 Oct 2016 01:15:11 +0000 MANDAN, N.D. — Law enforcement officials fired at an unmanned aircraft and a group of Dakota Access pipeline opponents twice blocked a North Dakota state highway Sunday, capping a weekend of protests.

A helicopter helping monitor a protest against the four-state pipeline Sunday was approached by a drone in a “threatening manner,” the Morton County Sheriff’s Office said. An officer in the helicopter told law enforcement on the ground that the pilot and passengers were “in fear of their lives” and that the unmanned aircraft was going after them. Less-than-lethal ammunition damaged the drone, which was then landed by its operator.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said drones flying near protests and near where hundreds have been camping out in protest of the $3.8 billion pipeline are not being operated according to federal regulations and their investigations will be sent to the states attorney’s office for possible charges. Two people operating drones during the protests have already been charged.

Also Sunday, protesters put up two roadblocks on State Highway 1806. The first, which went up about 2 p.m., was made of barbed wire, cars and later hay bales, tree stumps and logs. Law enforcement authorities spoke with protesters, and the blockade came down before 5 p.m. A second roadblock, made with vehicles, campers and a state Department of Transportation message board, was still up as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff’s office said.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is building the $3.8 billion pipeline, which crosses through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. Opponents worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and farther downstream on the Missouri River, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

Sunday’s demonstrations come after 127 people were arrested Saturday during a large protest at a pipeline construction site.

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About 100 gather for emotional dedication of Canaan Veterans Memorial Sun, 23 Oct 2016 23:40:59 +0000 CANAAN — About 100 people gathered outside the Canaan Public Library on a chilly Sunday afternoon to celebrate the dedication of the new veterans memorial in this small Somerset County town.

Townspeople, veterans, American Legion members and members of the Elks Lodge came together to celebrate the new monument, which was installed just a few weeks ago, according to the veterans memorial committee.

“We hope we made a memorial that the town of Canaan, our veterans and everyone else can be proud of,” said committee member and veteran Dale Burrill. “To all of you, the town and this committee want to thank you.”

The Canaan Veterans Memorial includes names of people who lived in Canaan when they were drafted or enlisted in the military and goes as far back as the Revolutionary War. A 30-foot flagpole stands next to the memorial site.

The first speaker, retired U.S. Navy Capt. Larry Burrill, Dale’s younger brother who now lives in Philadelphia, said he returned to his hometown for the dedication because he wanted to do his part.

Larry Burrill told the crowd about how he had heard gunshots while taking a walk on Notch Road while back in town, and how he had realized he felt no fear.

“That’s not the way it is around the world,” he said. “The people listed on this memorial enlisted to protect these freedoms.”

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Susan Horsman, now a certified registered nurse anesthetist and member of the local Elks Lodge, asked the audience to think back to the past. She talked about what it means to see names from the Civil War and world wars on the memorial.

“Did someone who went to school here serve at Iwo Jima? In the conflict we call the Vietnam War?” Horsman said to a teary-eyed audience. “They may have worked the land or in the mills, but they all raised their hands to pledge allegiance to this nation.”

Horsman talked about how war has changed, how there is no longer a “front line” or trenches, and how the enemy is harder to identify. But, she said, “men and women from Canaan still answer the call to protect us in these times.”

At the end of her speech, Horsman called on the town to remember all veterans, whether they died serving their country or were back in their hometowns.

“Remember those who are fallen, say thanks to those who are still here and say a prayer for those who still serve overseas,” she said.

When the speakers finished, Dale asked all the veterans in the audience to raise their hands, and the audience clapped in gratitude.

“Thank you for your service, all of you,” Dale said.

Ron Page, the past post commander of American Legion Post 39 in Madison, officially dedicated the memorial.

Everyone who attended was invited to coffee and snacks after the ceremony.

The Canaan Veterans Memorial was first thought of nearly 25 years ago, and a committee was formed and raised about $12,000, said Maureen Olson, chair of the revived veterans memorial committee.

Olson said the committee is excited that the memorial is finally completed.

“I think it’s important for the town to have (the memorial) for the recognition of the veterans finally,” she said. “We may be a small town, but we had a lot of people go in (to the service).”

Last fall the town voted at a special town meeting to give $11,000 to the committee from its capital reserve account. The committee also received about $4,500 in donations and about $6,000 from fundraising events and raffles, Olson said. The committee also received in-kind and labor donations for site work and installation.

The total cost of the memorial, which was installed by Elias Monuments in Madison, was $25,000.

The committee is also selling engraved pavers to those who do not meet the requirements to be put on the memorial. The money from pavers will help pay for future maintenance costs, Olson said.


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Trump team acknowledges it trails, but says it can still win Sun, 23 Oct 2016 19:37:30 +0000 WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s campaign bluntly acknowledged Sunday that the real estate mogul is trailing Hillary Clinton as the presidential race hurtles toward a close, but insisted he still has a viable path to win the White House.

With barely two weeks left and early voting underway in most of the U.S., Trump’s team said “the race is not over” and pledged to keep campaigning hard – even in states like Virginia and Pennsylvania that polls show are now trending Clinton’s way. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway laid out a path to the requisite 270 electoral votes that goes through make-or-break states Florida, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio.

“We are behind. She has some advantages,” Conway said Sunday. Yet she argued that Clinton’s advantages – like a slew of bold-name Democrats campaigning for her – belied her lack of true support. “The current president and first lady, vice president, all are much more popular than she can hope to be.”

Added Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus: “We expect to win.”

Yet even as Clinton appeared to be strengthening her lead, her campaign was careful not to declare premature victory.

“We don’t want to get ahead of our skis here,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. He said the “battleground states” where both candidates are campaigning hardest “are called that for a reason.”

As part of his closing message, Trump was laying out an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days as president. Yet he undermined his own attempt to strike a high-minded tone on policy issues when he announced in the same speech that he planned to sue the numerous women who have accused him of groping and other unwanted sexual behavior.

“All of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said Saturday during an event near the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg. He added: “I look so forward to doing that.”

Asked about Trump’s remarks, Clinton told reporters between rallies Saturday in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that she was done responding to what her Republican opponent is saying as Election Day nears and would instead focus on helping elect other Democrats.

A day earlier, Clinton attacked Pennsylvania’s Republican senator, Pat Toomey, saying in Pittsburgh that he has refused to “stand up” to Trump as she praised his Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty. Noting Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants and his attacks on a Muslim-American military family, she said of Toomey: “If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump after all of this, then can you be sure that he will stand up for you when it counts?”

Clinton rejected Trump’s allegation, offered without evidence, that the dozen or so women who have come forward are being prompted by her campaign or the Democratic National Committee. The accusers emerged after the former reality TV star boasted of kissing women and groping their genitals without their consent.

“These accusations are not coming from our campaign,” Mook said.

On Saturday, an adult film actress said the billionaire kissed her and two other women on the lips “without asking for permission” when they met him after a golf tournament in 2006. Trump has denied that all the other allegations, while insisting some of the women weren’t attractive enough for him to want to pursue.

“He’s been waterboarded by these issues,” said former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Trump supporter, lamenting the “oppression” of her candidate in the media.

Though mostly a recap of policies he’s proposed before, Trump’s speech included a few new elements, such as a freeze on hiring new federal workers and a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for immigrants who re-enter the U.S. illegally after being deported a first time. In a pledge sure to raise eyebrows on Wall Street, he said he’d block a potential merger between AT&T and media conglomerate Time Warner.

Throughout the GOP primary, Trump was criticized for shying away from detailed policy proposals. But his speech, which aides said would form the core of his closing argument to voters, underscored how the billionaire has gradually compiled a broad – if sometimes vague – policy portfolio that straddles conservative, isolationist and populist orthodoxies.

Mook and Brewer spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Priebus on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Conway spoke on “Fox News Sunday” and on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


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University trustees support ambitious Maine graduate center Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:20:52 +0000 The University of Maine System trustees voted unanimously Sunday to support a first-stage $15 million plan to create a new graduate center for business, law and public policy in Portland.

The vote, taken at a special meeting in East Millinocket, authorizes the system chancellor to ask for additional funding from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which has been the driving financial force behind the $150 million initiative.

Over the past two years, the foundation has provided $2.25 million for early-stage development.

The proposed center would house the University of Maine School of Law, a new MBA program that combines the current graduate business programs operating at the University of Southern Maine and UMaine in Orono, and the graduate programs in public health and in public policy and management that now operate at the Muskie School of Public Service at USM. It also would house the Cutler Institute for Health and Policy, which is the research arm of USM and part of the Muskie School on the Portland campus.

If the multi-year first stage is successful, the trustees will be asked to authorize a second stage that includes raising funds to build a $94 million building somewhere in Portland to house the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies. A location has not yet been identified.

A business plan outlining the proposal was released last week.

“We’re building something that will be beneficial to the entire state,” board chairman Sam Collins said. “I am very much in support of it because of how we have structured it and minimal risk and what it can mean to the state of Maine.”

Chancellor James Page said Sunday that if the trustees decided not to go forward with phase two, the phase one developments would “stand on their own.”

The business plan, Page told the trustees, is the foundation “for the kind of robust discussions we need to have” in the next phase. “We need to take it for what it is, build, and with your approval, go forward and create this great opportunity.”

A faculty representative to the board told the trustees that while there was broad support for the concept and need for the graduate center, the faculty had concerns about the MBA merger in particular. The graduate business departments in Orono and USM are currently in talks about the merged program, from its curriculum to governance issues for faculties at different institutions.

“The merger will only work if both Orono and USM faculty work together as equals,” said Elizabeth Turesky, a professor at USM. “I believe faculty need your assurance that their significant concerns are addressed.”

Page noted that challenge in his presentation, saying the two campuses need to be “on equal terms” as they move toward the MBA merger.

“For the first time, we’ve taken a University of Maine degree and put it in a program in the Greater Portland area. That collaboration in two of the largest campuses is enormous,” he said, noting administrative and cultural barriers to that kind of collaboration. “We are taking two major programs and asking them to coalesce and to work together.”


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Two Portland men stabbed in Biddeford Sun, 23 Oct 2016 17:44:04 +0000 Biddeford police are investigating the stabbing of two Portland men at 5 York Court early Sunday.

Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk said the men, ages 24 and 26, were in Biddeford about 5 a.m. for unspecified reasons.

Police received a report of a possible stabbing and found both men suffering from stab wounds. They were taken to Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and then transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment.

“I cannot comment on more specific types of injury, specific weapons or what their current health status is,” Fisk said in a news release Sunday afternoon.

Fisk didn’t release the names of the men. She said witnesses were being uncooperative and detectives were trying to interview the two men at Maine Med on Sunday afternoon.

“We do not believe there is a threat to the public,” she said.

Police reportedly taped off multiple buildings on Elm Street on Sunday morning, including a Papa John’s Pizza restaurant at 222 Elm St., which is about a block from York Court. Papa John’s employees told WCSH-TV that they found blood on a window when they arrived for their shift late Sunday morning and saw a blood trail on sidewalks nearby.

Fisk had no new information Sunday evening. She said she would release further details as the investigation continues.

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Tour bus slams into truck in California, killing 13 Sun, 23 Oct 2016 17:14:12 +0000 PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A tour bus returning home to Los Angeles from a casino trip plowed into the back of a semi-truck on a California highway early Sunday, killing 13 people and injuring 31 others, authorities said.

A maintenance crew had slowed down traffic on Interstate 10 before the vehicles crashed just north of the desert resort town of Palm Springs, California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele said. The work had gone on for hours without problems, he said.

Abele said the bus carrying 44 passengers was going much faster than the truck, though a trauma surgeon said the injuries he saw indicated it was slowing down at the point of impact.

“The speed of bus was so significant that the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus,” Abele told reporters. “You can see it was a substantial impact.”

It was not known if alcohol, drugs or fatigue played a role in the crash about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, but the bus was inspected in April and had no mechanical issues, Abele said. The bus driver was killed, and the truck driver received minor injuries.

The bus was coming from Red Earth Casino in the unincorporated community of Thermal and was about 35 miles into its 135-mile trip back to Los Angeles.

CHP officers had been slowing traffic to allow Southern California Edison workers to string wires across the freeway, Abele said.

Passengers told officials that most people were asleep when the crash occurred at 5:17 a.m. Abele said it appeared the 1996 bus didn’t have seat belts and likely didn’t have a black box that newer vehicles feature.

Before April, the bus also was inspected in 2014 and 2015, the CHP said. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records show it had no crashes in the two years before Oct. 22 and had a satisfactory safety rating.

The front of the bus crumpled into the semi-truck’s trailer and debris was scattered across the key route through Southern California. Firefighters used ladders to climb into the bus’ windows to remove bodies, and tow trucks lifted the trailer to make it easier to reach the bus, whose front end was demolished.

Fourteen patients were sent to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, the area’s only trauma center. Five were admitted in critical condition but were stable and in intensive care by Sunday afternoon, said Dr. Ricard Townsend, a trauma surgeon. Seven others had been released.

Many suffered facial injuries, a telltale sign they were not wearing seat belts, he said. He called the injuries unusual for this type of crash.

“When you usually see someone involved in a high-speed motor vehicle crash, the thing that you see are big-time broken bones. This was not one of the circumstances we were faced with,” Townsend said, referencing the collapsible trailer. “It seemed as though most of the victims were unrestrained and were therefore flown through the air and ended up sustaining facial trauma.”

Doctors treated several spinal fractures but few other bone injuries. The wounds indicate the bus was slowing down when it struck, Townsend said.

Two other hospitals received patients with minor injuries.

CHP Officer Stephanie Hamilton told the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs earlier Sunday that the driver was one of the owners of tour bus company, USA Holiday, based near Los Angeles. The company has one vehicle and one driver, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A phone message left for the company was not immediately returned. A Facebook message from USA Holiday said it did not have much information about the crash.

The company says on social media that it has more than 25 years of experience traveling to casinos in Southern California. It posts about trips leaving the Los Angeles area to casinos around the Coachella Valley and Las Vegas.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team to California to investigate, board spokesman Eric Weiss said. Some westbound lanes of the highway have reopened, the CHP said.

The crash comes two years after a FedEx truck veered across an interstate median north of Sacramento and slammed into a bus full of high school students, killing 10 people. In August, a bus in central California hit a highway sign post that tore through the vehicle and left four people dead.

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