Press Herald Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:41:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Scientist’s new theory: Religion was key to humans’ social evolution Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:39:04 +0000 BOSTON — In humans’ mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, one innovation played an essential role: religion.

That’s the theory that a preeminent evolutionary scientist is setting out to prove.

“You need something quite literally to stop everybody from killing everybody else out of just crossness,” said Robin Dunbar. “Somehow it’s clear that religions, all these doctrinal religions, create the sense that we’re all one family.”

Dunbar, an evolutionary psychology professor at Oxford University, gained some measure of fame more than 20 years ago for his research on the size of animals’ social networks. Each species of primate, he found, can manage to keep up a social bond with a certain number of other members of its own species. That number goes up as primates’ brain size increases, from monkeys to apes.

Humans, Dunbar found, are capable of maintaining significantly more social ties than the size of our brains alone could explain. He proved that each human is surprisingly consistent in the number of social ties we can maintain: About five with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends and 1,500 with people we could recognize by name. That discovery came to be known as “Dunbar’s number.”

And then Dunbar turned to figuring out why Dunbar’s number is so high. Did humor help us manage it? Exercise? Storytelling? That riddle has been Dunbar’s quest for years – and religion is the latest hypothesis he’s testing in his ongoing attempt to find the answer.

“Most of these things we’re looking at, you get in religion in one form or another,” he said.

Dunbar is just one of a recent wave of scientists who are interested in how religion came to be and how people have benefited from it. “For most of Western intellectual history since the Enlightenment, religion has been thought of as ignorant and strange and an aberration and something that gets in the way of reason,” said Christian Smith, a sociologist at the University of Notre Dame who studies religion. “In the last 10 or 20 years on many fronts, there’s been a change in thinking about religion, where a lot of neuroscientists have been saying religion is totally natural. It totally makes sense that we’re religious. Religion has served a lot of important functions in developing societies.”

In the case of Dunbar and his colleagues, they already published research demonstrating that two other particularly human behaviors increased people’s capacity for social bonding. In the lab, they showed that first, laughter, and second, singing, left research subjects more capable of forming connections with other people than they were before.

Religion is the remaining key to explaining humans’ remarkable social networks, Dunbar thinks. “These three things are very good at triggering endorphins, making us feel bonded,” he said last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting, where he presented his team’s research on laughter and singing and introduced the forthcoming research on religion.

Religion includes numerous elements of Dunbar’s earlier studies on endorphin-producing activities. Lots of singing, to start. Repetitive motion triggers endorphins, he said, noting that traditions from Catholicism to Islam to Buddhism to Hinduism make use of prayer beads.

Plus, researchers have shown that doing these activities in synchronized fashion with other people drastically magnifies the endorphin-producing effect: Picture the coordinated bowing that is central to Muslim, Jewish and Catholic worship.

And Dunbar’s most recent published research demonstrated the effectiveness of emotional storytelling in bonding groups of strangers who hear the story together – again, a fixture of religious worship.

“What you get from dance and singing on its own is a sense of belonging. It happens very quickly. What happens, I suspect, is that it can trigger very easily trance states,” Dunbar said. He theorizes that these spiritual experiences matter much more than dance and song alone. “Once you’ve triggered that, you’re in, I think, a different ballgame. It ramps up massively. That’s what’s triggered. There’s something there.”

Dunbar’s team will start research on religion in April, and he expects it will take three years. To begin, he wants to map a sort of evolutionary tree of religion, using statistical modeling to try to show when religious traditions evolved and how they morphed into each other.

Of course, religious people themselves might find Dunbar’s theory odd – most don’t think of religion existing to serve an evolutionary purpose, but of their faiths simply being true.

But Smith thinks one can easily have faith in both God’s truth and religion’s role in human development. “From the religious point of view, you can say this . . . . God created humans as a very particular type of creature, with very particular brains and biology, just so that they would develop into the type of humans who would know God and believe in God,” Smith said. “They’re not in conflict at all.”

He added: “A lot of people assume, falsely, that science and religion are zero-sum games: that if science explains something, then religion must not be true. . . . If you were God and wanted to set up the world in a certain way, wouldn’t you create humans with bigger brains and the ability to imagine?”

One more research finding on the place of God in our brains – remember Dunbar’s number, the five intimate friends and 50 good friends and 150 friends each person can hold onto? Dunbar says that if a person feels he or she has a close relationship with a spiritual figure, like God or the Virgin Mary, then that spiritual personage actually fills up one of those numbered spots, just like a human relationship would. One of your closest friends, scientifically speaking, might be God.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:39:04 +0000
LePage tells Fox News feds ‘stole’ $800 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare Mon, 27 Feb 2017 14:28:49 +0000 During a morning interview with Fox News’ television talk show Fox and Friends, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said the federal government should return $800 billion that he claimed it “stole” to make the federal Affordable Care Act work.

When asked about President Trump’s federal budget proposals that would not cut defense spending, Social Security or Medicare, LePage said he was concerned about the stance on Medicare.

“I’m a little concerned that they are not going to touch Medicare,” LePage said. “I think what they should be doing with Medicare is return the $800 billion that they stole to put into Obamacare. And I really do believe it was stealing from the American people.”

LePage said Americans have been paying into Medicare with payroll taxes, and former President Barack Obama “went in and took $800 billion out to make his program work and I really don’t think that’s appropriate. I think they should at least return that money.”

The governor’s claim is similar to one made by former Republican presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, who have said $700 billion was stolen from the federal medical insurance program that covers health care for those 65 and older. But according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit and nonpartisan Washington-D.C. based think tank on the federal budget, the enactment of the ACA did not reduce the amount of money going to pay for Medicare but reduced the amount Medicare spends.

“In fact, Medicare payroll tax revenues increased, increasing the amount that could be spent,” a report by the committee notes.”Partially as a result of these changes, the Medicare Trust Fund is expected to be solvent through 2030, 13 years longer than projected before the (ACA) was passed.”

Later in the short interview, LePage repeated Trump’s point that Congress should “repeal and replace” the ACA, also known as Obamacare. He said that instead of having to follow strict federal rules for health care funds under Medicaid, states should be given block grants to design their own health care benefit programs for people with low incomes.

“Get rid of it,” LePage said. “One size does not fit all, every state has their unique dynamics.”

LePage noted that Maine has the oldest population in the U.S. “So we need to have our own program that we can design to fit our state,” he said.

Other topics LePage discussed include the state’s budget cash flow balance of $1 billion and his attendance at a ball for U.S. governors Sunday night that was hosted by Trump.

This report will be updated.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:28:49 +0000
Neil Fingleton, 7-foot-7 ‘Game of Thrones’ actor, dies at 36 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:53:58 +0000

“Game of Thrones” actor Neil Fingleton played Mag The Mighty in the fantasy series and also took on roles in “X-Men: First Class” and “Jupiter Ascending.” Geoff Caddick/PA via AP

LONDON — Neil Fingleton, a 7-foot 7-inch actor who played the giant Mag the Mighty in “Game of Thrones” has died at 36.

The Tall Persons Club says Fingleton, who was Britain’s tallest man, died Saturday. British media reported the cause as heart failure.

Fingleton was recognized by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the U.K.’s tallest man.

Born in northeast England in 1980, Fingleton told the Guinness records website in 2006 that “I have always been taller than everyone since I can remember.”

His height made him a basketball natural, and Fingleton played college basketball in the United States for the University of North Carolina and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

He went on to a short professional basketball career in the U.S. and Europe before turning to acting.

He appeared in films including “417 Ronin and “X-Men: First Class” and in TV shows including “Doctor Who” and the hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones.”

In the “Games of Thrones” the fearsome Mag was a giant on the northern side of the great ice wall that was guarded by Lord Commander Jon Snow and the black-clad men of the Night’s Watch.

Neil Fingleton as Mag the Mighty in a scene from the “Watchers on the Wall” episode of “Game of Thrones” in 2011.

]]> 0, 27 Feb 2017 09:23:37 +0000
Storm chasers honor ‘Twister’ star Bill Paxton Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:32:02 +0000 On Sunday, on a weather map used by storm chasers and spotters to track tornadoes through the American Midwest, giant initials appeared. Dot by dot, spilling from Kansas south to Texas, the markers formed the letters B and P. It was a unique tribute to the actor Bill Paxton, a star of the most popular tornado film of all time, “Twister.”

Paxton died Saturday at the age of 61. The cause of death was complications from surgery, according to a statement from his family released Sunday. He was known for such roles as a treasure hunter in “Titanic” and a suburban polygamist in HBO’s “Big Love.”

Before his breakout role in the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” Paxton played several supporting characters in popular genre flicks. Along with Lance Henriksen, Paxton held the distinction of being one of two actors defeated on-screen by an alien (killed by a pack of xenomorphs in “Aliens”), a predator (killed by one of the intergalactic hunters in “Predator 2”) and “The Terminator,” when the T-800 series cyborg threw Paxton, playing a switchblade punk, into a fence.

Six years after completing this hat trick of sci-fi deaths, Paxton scored his first major leading role. In 1996’s “Twister,” he played Bill “The Extreme” Harding, a meteorologist who sought violent storms and matrimonial harmony. The film proved to be a $494.4 million hit. So, too, were its tornadoes, which stood out even among the mid-1990s popcorn lineup of bioengineered dinosaurs and apocalyptic asteroids.

“Twister” was, as meteorologist Kathryn Prociv wrote for the Washington Post in 2013, the “one mainstream, pop culture event responsible for making storm chasing sexy.”

Some 200 storm chasers honored the actor who helped give supercells and Oklahoma fields that Hollywood patina. They wrote B and P in majuscule on a tornado map, marks made by checking in with GPS coordinates. (Several points were logged remotely by computer, though a few storm spotters drove to the proper coordinates to mark a dot.) The tribute centered around Wakita, Okla., a Tornado Alley town destroyed by a fictional F4 tornado in “Twister.”

The non-profit tornado tracking group Spotter Network coordinated the event. Though such a tribute had before been bestowed on a handful of departed meteorologists, this was the first time that a non-scientist had been so honored.

“There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of meteorologists today – myself included – who were impacted by the movie ‘Twister’ and the role Bill played in that,” John Wetter, Spotter Network’s president, told the Associated Press.

While making “Twister,” tornado researchers took a few of the actors out into the field to look at a real tornado. Paxton shadowed experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. But, as is the norm when Hollywood tangos with science, the science stumbled in translation to the screen. (The film offered “a mere wisp of the true experience of storm chasing,” one critic sniffed.) A few experts took issue with the incorrect cloud formations seen in the film. Of a more mortal concern, they noted, was the fact that storm chasers do not get nearly so close to dangerous weather systems.

To some scientists, though, movies – even the ones that deal with science – should not aspire to the perfectly factual. Film is “not an educational medium, it’s an emotional medium,” said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the SETI Institute and a consultant on films such as “Contact,” to Livescience in 2010. “Kids get turned on by the emotion.”

Despite the inaccuracies, meteorologists cite “Twister” as the sort of movie that stokes an interest in science among young viewers. “Whether meteorologists love or hate the movie, there is no debate that it has been responsible for getting many young people sufficiently interested in weather to pursue a career in meteorology,” Prociv wrote. “That is a great thing!”

John A. Knox, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Georgia, said the film was responsible for what he called “the ‘Twister’ effect.” In 2008, he calculated the rise of undergraduate interest in the field of meteorology. In the decade between 1994 and 2004, Americans receiving bachelor’s degrees in meteorology increased by 47 percent. In the late 1990s, after “Twister,” undergraduate meteorology majors rose by up to 10 percent a year.

“Before the ‘Twister’ effect, meteorology was a pretty sedate and obscure pursuit, a small department or program at only a few dozen universities,” Knox wrote in an op-ed at USA Today in 2013. “But the total market penetration of ‘Twister’ changed everything.”

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:48:12 +0000
Video shows Tucson police shoving 86-year-old woman to pavement Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:57:28 +0000 The body camera footage of the protest against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in Tucson, Arizona, two weeks ago shows an 86-year-old woman, weighing less than 100 pounds and standing about 4 feet and 5 inches tall, approaching police officers and pointing her finger at them as she shouted indiscernible words.

Then, a police officer appears to push her arm, causing her to fall backward and hit her head on the pavement behind her. As a 65-year-old woman beside her reaches down to help the elderly woman up, an officer pepper sprays her in the face, temporarily blinding her and causing her to turn away in pain.

The video footage, released Friday by the Tucson Police Department to a local television station, illustrates the tense clashes from the Thursday, Feb. 16 protest there that began peacefully but soon escalated as protesters reportedly began disrupting rush hour traffic. Three police officers sustained minor injuries and four protesters were arrested.

Tucson police chief Chris Magnus said the department is conducting an investigation but has told reporters that he believes his officers handled the crowd appropriately. Local immigrant rights advocates have spoken out against police conduct at the protest, claiming that the arrests were unwarranted and that officers used unnecessary force – particularly against elderly women at the rally. The recently released body camera footage, the rally’s organizers say, “confirms police brutality and repression” of peaceful protesters.

Police body cam video; segment showing elderly woman being pushed to ground starts at the 4:50 mark:

The event, organized to protest recent nationwide deportation raids and in solidarity with the National Day Without Immigrants, began at 4:30 p.m. that day in front of Tucson’s downtown Federal Building. By 6 p.m., at least 80 people had joined the protest – organizers said it grew to 200 people at one point. It “suddenly became a safety and logistical challenge” as crowds began veering off the sidewalks and into the path of traffic, Magnus wrote.

An officer issued an emergency call for assistance, and those on the scene urged protesters to leave the street and return to the sidewalks. “Most of the crowd complied, but a very specific subgroup elected to remain in the road and challenge the directions they were given by the officers,” Magnus said, compromising their safety.

“One of the officers working to get a protester back to the sidewalk was assaulted by that protester,” Magnus said. “When the officer went to arrest this subject and place him in a patrol car for transport, he and the other officers who were assisting him were quickly surrounded by members of the crowd.”

Police arrested David Leon, 24, Joan Cichon, 68, and Tanya Alvarez-Blancarte, 42, for aggravated assault on a peace officer. Najima Rainey, 39, was arrested for obstructing and failure to identify.

Rolande Baker, 65, a retired schoolteacher, was the woman pepper-sprayed. When she saw police arresting Leon, she crossed the street, she said in an interview with The Post.

“I saw the police being way more aggressive than I’ve ever seen them be,” she said. She has been participating in peaceful rallies and protests in Tucson since she moved there in 1987, she said, and has never had any issues with local enforcement.

She described some of the moments captured by the recently released body camera footage, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by Tucson News Now.

The 86-year-old woman had joined with three other women in locking their arms in front of the police van, blocking it from leaving. After officers unlinked the women’s arms, one pushed her to the ground. Officers then pepper-sprayed Baker in the face.

“Here’s this woman on the ground, and they’re so busy pepper spraying those who were helping her, they never help her up,” Baker said. “Do we look violent to you?”

The 86-year-old woman, who has not been identified by authorities, was not injured, and was able to get back up on her own. Baker, however, was still recovering from the pain in her eyes three days later.

“It’s just terrible,” she said. “Would you do that to your mother? Would you do that to your grandmother? Because I’m about the age of your grandmother.”

A protest organizer with immigrant rights group Lucha Unida de Padres y Estudiantes (LUPE), Steffanny Cott, told the Arizona Daily Star that police overreacted to the demonstration. She said marchers were going around the police vehicle, and that the officer was revving the engine and the SUV nudged a Leon, the demonstrator who was later arrested.

LUPE wrote on a GoFundMe page that at least a dozen people, including two children, a retired teacher, a nurse, and two legal observers were “inhumanely pepper sprayed.” The group wrote that cries of “help me” could be heard as one of the leaders of Tucson Black Lives Matter was pepper sprayed, pushed to the ground, pulled by her hair, and dragged to the sidewalk, and later into the patrol van where she was arrested.

Baker, along with other protesters present that day, attended a city council meeting last Wednesday to describe the treatment they received from local law enforcement. City council members called for an investigation and a meeting between some of the protesters and the police officers, Baker said.

Baker worried about both the “aggressive” behavior of police and a bill that passed the Arizona State Senate last week that would subject protesters to anti-racketeering legislation, allowing police to seize the assets of anyone involved in a protest that at some point becomes violent.

“They’re trying to shut us up is what they’re trying to do, in my opinion,” Baker said. “It’s scary that this is all happening at the same time.”

]]> 0, 27 Feb 2017 08:04:34 +0000
Plenty of sympathy to go around after unprecedented Oscars mix-up Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:54:06 +0000 It was a mistake for the ages, one that apparently has never happened before.

The best picture mix-up at Sunday night’s Oscars left audiences in the Dolby Theatre and at home in total shock as they tried to process that “Moonlight” actually won, and that “La La Land” had incorrectly been declared winner.

The confusion and chaos of the moment left a bunch of people in its wake who are deserving of collective sympathy. Here’s a rundown:

‘La La Land’ cast and crew

Seriously, can you imagine? You just won the biggest accolade of your career, and are well into letting the glow of this triumph sink in when all of a sudden you discover it was for naught?

There was “La La Land” writer-director Damien Chazelle, who had earlier in the evening made Oscars history by becoming the youngest person to ever win the best directing award. His facial expression after he figured out what happened at the end of Oscars night has officially become the stuff of memes.

There was producer Jordan Horowitz, who had to take on the awkward task of breaking the news to a stunned audience that “Moonlight” actually won. And producer Fred Berger, who was in the middle of thanking his family when he turned around, figured out what happened, and quickly remarked, “we lost, by the way.”

Horowitz and “La La Land” star Emma Stone both have said how happy they were that “Moonlight” won, and it’s clear that after a year of the festival circuit and award-show rounds, the cast and crew members of both movies have developed quite a friendly rapport and mutual admiration. But still – oof.

‘Moonlight’ cast and crew

Even though Barry Jenkins’ film ended up the official best picture winner – an accolade that brings prestige that will last his entire lifetime – the unbelievable chaos of this mishap overshadowed his crowning moment.

Jenkins appeared so perplexed by the craziness of it all that he voiced his shock before wandering away from the microphone. “Even in my dreams this could not be true,” he said. “But to hell with dreams, I’m done with it because this is true. Oh my goodness.”

The director had to also take time during his acceptance to acknowledge the kinship he had developed with the folks behind “La La Land.”

“Moonlight” actress Naomie Harris later told the Los Angeles Times she thought she was being subjected to some kind of practical joke.

“I’m not going to say I think it’s a great thing we won this way,” Harris told the newspaper. “I think it would have been great to have a [typical] moment.

Warren Beatty

A lot of ire is being directed at the presenters. Warren Beatty opened an envelope and appeared confused by its contents. He looked inside for more paper. From the perspective of the audience and co-presenter Faye Dunaway, Beatty was stretching out the announcement for some kind of twisted comedic effect.

But it turns out he didn’t have the correct envelope. And after Horowitz announced “Moonlight” actually won, host Jimmy Kimmel even cast the blame on Beatty, yelling, “Warren, what did you do?!”

Beatty stepped to the microphone to explain he had paused earlier when he looked at the envelope because it said “Emma Stone, ‘La La Land.'” Stone had just won best actress. “That’s why I took such a long look at Faye,” Beatty said. “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

A close-up of that envelope confirms Beatty had the wrong card. “I looked down at the card and thought, ‘This is very strange, because it says “best actress.”‘ Maybe there was a misprint,” Beatty told the Los Angeles Times after the ceremony. “I don’t know what happened. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.”

But couldn’t he have stalled? Or declared from the stage that he had the wrong card, rather than handing it over to his co-presenter? Let the Monday morning quarterbacking commence.

Faye Dunaway

Co-presenter Faye Dunaway was actually the person who declared “La La Land” the best picture winner.

She had clearly thought Beatty was playing some kind of joke in delaying the announcement. So Beatty showed her the card, and she took it to mean “La La Land” won. Per Beatty’s telling, that card said “Emma Stone, La La Land.”

Not only will Dunaway be subject to the same kind of post-show questioning that Beatty will be, but she will be forever connected with the biggest mistake in Oscars history.

Jimmy Kimmel

Man, Jimmy Kimmel. He almost made it through the entire high-profile Oscars gig – his first! – until the entire thing unraveled. Now, no one will really be talking about his orchestrated Matt Damon trolling bits, or how he got a busload of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists to crash the Oscars and managed some improvised moments into genuine laughs.

And while no one is really blaming Kimmel for the mix-up, he decided to shoulder the burden.

“Well, I don’t know what happened. I blame myself for this,” Kimmel said at the close of the show. “Let’s remember, it’s just an awards show. I mean, we hate to see people disappointed, but the good news is we got to see some extra speeches.”

He then voiced that his fear had come true: “I knew I would screw this up, I really did. Thank you for watching, I’m back at work tomorrow on my regular show and I promise I’ll never come back.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants and Oscars production crew

If you’re running a live event, you want to be sort of invisible. You know you’ve done a good job when you’re not the center of attention.

But a mishap of this magnitude has placed the crew behind the Oscars production front-and-center, with the questions of how-could-this-have-happened being directed right at them.

And only two people knew all of the Oscar winners before Sunday night, both accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers. One of them, Martha Ruiz, could be seen on the stage as commotion erupted and it became clear something wasn’t right. It appeared she and a stagehand were trying to quickly clear up the mistake.

Likely everyone involved with the production will face some kind of scrutiny for what went down, especially since the Oscars have never had to deal with an error of this magnitude.

“We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture,” PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a statement.

The statement continued: “The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

]]> 0, 27 Feb 2017 07:40:35 +0000
Pediatricians issue new warning against teen pot use Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:21:24 +0000 CHICAGO — An influential doctors group is beefing up warnings about marijuana’s potential harms for teens amid increasingly lax laws and attitudes on pot use.

Many parents use the drug and think it’s OK for their kids, but “we would rather not mess around with the developing brain,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman.

The advice comes in a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Monday in Pediatrics. The group opposes medical and recreational marijuana use for kids. It says emphasizing that message is important because most states have legalized medical use for adults, and many have decriminalized or legalized adults’ recreational use.

Those trends have led parents to increasingly ask doctors about kids’ use, said Ammerman, a Stanford University pediatrics professor who co-wrote the report.

“Parents will say, ‘I use it moderately and I’m fine with it, so it’s really benign and not a problem if my kid uses it,'” he said.

Doctors need to know how to respond to that thinking, and parents and teens need to know the risks, Ammerman said.


The brain continues to develop until the early 20s, raising concerns about the potential short- and long-term effects of a mind-altering drug. Some studies suggest that teens who use marijuana at least 10 times a month develop changes in brain regions affecting memory and the ability to plan. Some changes may be permanent, the report says.

Frequent use starting in the early teen years may lower IQ scores, and some studies have shown that starting marijuana use at a young age is more likely to lead to addiction than starting in adulthood. Not all teen users develop these problems and some may be more vulnerable because of genetics or other factors.


Solid research on medical marijuana’s effects in children and teens is lacking, although some studies have suggested it may benefit kids with hard-to-treat seizures. The report says other potential benefits, doses and effects are mostly unknown.

Recreational use is illegal for those under age 21 even in states that allow adult use. Parents should avoid using marijuana in front of their kids and should keep all marijuana products stored out of kids’ sight, the academy says. Some young children who accidentally swallowed their parents’ pot-containing cookies or drinks have landed in the emergency room for mostly minor symptoms although some developed breathing problems.


Government data show that almost 40 percent of U.S. high school students have tried marijuana, about 20 percent are current users and close to 10 percent first tried it before age 13. Use has increased in recent years among those aged 18 and older but not among young teens. Still, kids aged 12-17 increasingly think that marijuana use is not harmful.

Dr. Sheryl Ryan, a Yale University pediatrics professor and lead author of the academy report, said marijuana “is the drug of choice” for many of her teen patients in New Haven, Connecticut. Some think daily use is safe, noting that their parents or grandparents smoked pot in college and turned out OK. But today’s marijuana is much more potent and potentially more risky, Ryan said.

]]> 0, 27 Feb 2017 06:39:51 +0000
Live + Work initiative launches listing service for internships Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Live + Work in Maine, an initiative to promote employment in the state, has launched an online listing service to connect college students with highly sought-after internships offered by Maine employers.

The service, which officially launches Monday, already has listings for about 40 internships, and its creator said many more listings are expected to be added in the weeks ahead. Employers and college administrators said the online service will help connect Maine companies with qualified candidates and prepare students who want to remain in the state for their future careers.

The free service, at, also contains listings for temporary, part-time and full-time jobs. As of Friday, more than 2,500 jobs were being advertised on the site by a variety of Maine employers.

“It’s safe to say that over 100 employers have posted,” said Ed McKersie, president of the Portland staffing and recruiting firm Pro Search, who launched Live + Work in 2015.

In addition to looking at internship or job postings, browsers of the site can review more than 300 profiles of major employers in Maine, he said. They also can learn about financial incentives for college grads who accept jobs in the state, such as those offered by Opportunity Maine and the Harold Alfond Foundation.

“We’re trying to drive as many people, as many job-seekers, as many students as possible to the website,” McKersie said.

Studies show that a prior internship is among the best ways for a graduating college student to land a full-time job.

Nationally, the share of interns in 2016 who ended up taking a full-time job with the company that offered the internship was 61.9 percent – a 13-year high, according to the 2016 Internship and Co-op Survey, conducted by the Pennsylvania-based National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The average rate of interns who later received full-time job offers with their internship provider was 72.7 percent, the highest it has been since the peak of the pre-recession job market, the survey found.

The average acceptance rate for those job offers was 85.2 percent, which is higher than pre-recession levels, it found. That means graduating students are more likely than ever to accept a full-time job offer from an employer that gave them an internship.

“Internships are critical these days to help students get the work skills they need and make connections,” said James Westhoff, director of career services at Husson University’s OASIS: The Center for Student Success. “It’s like a 10-week interview doing real work.”

At least 80 percent of Husson students want to pursue careers in Maine after graduation, Westhoff said, so internships at Maine companies, nonprofits and other organizations are in high demand. Husson requires students in its business college to have had at least one internship by the time they graduate.

“Anything we can partner with to help them find internships (is helpful),” Westhoff said. “It’s often not easy.”

One Maine employer that is already using the Live + Work listing service is Tyler Technologies Inc., a software developer that employs about 600 Mainers and plans to expand that number to 1,100 in the coming year.

“One of the things we’re doing to attract employees is expanding our internship program,” said Liz Rensenbrink, the Texas-based company’s human resources director in Maine. “We’re looking at anything we can to develop talent in Maine and attract people to Maine.”

Tyler Technologies plans to offer 27 student internships this year in Maine, in a variety of areas including computer science and marketing, she said, adding that many of those internships will lead to permanent jobs.

“We really do focus on hiring people in Maine,” Rensenbrink said, although the company will accept out-of-state applications, as well.

Ainsley Wallace, the University of Southern Maine’s vice president of corporate engagement, said the school is excited about the Live + Work service as it rolls out a pilot program to connect honor students with Maine internships.

“Our goal is to secure internships for the 28 students who have agreed to participate in our pilot,” she said. If successful, the program will be expanded to include more students.

Wallace said job preparedness is a major issue for today’s university students. A quality internship involves doing real work and “not just making coffee,” she said.

Employers place a high value on internships when hiring college graduates, Wallace said, adding that USM welcomes any service that provides students with another way to find internships in Maine.

“Our grads want to live and work in Maine,” she said.

]]> 0, 26 Feb 2017 23:56:19 +0000
The Oscars list Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Best Picture: “Moonlight”

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Best Actress: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight.”

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, “Fences.”

Foreign Language Film: “The Salesman,” Iran.

Production Design: “La La Land,” Production Design: David Wasco; Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco.

Sound Mixing: “Hacksaw Ridge,” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace.

Sound Editing: “Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare.

Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

Documentary Feature: “O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow.

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Suicide Squad,” Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson.

Animated Feature Film: “Zootopia,” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer.

Animated Short Film: “Piper,” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer.

Set Decoration: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco.

Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, “La La Land.”

Original Score: “La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz.

Original Song: “City of Stars” from “La La Land,” music by Justin Hurwitz, lyric by Ben Pasek and Justin Paul.

Documentary (short subject): “The White Helmets,” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara.

Film Editing: “Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert.

Live Action Short Film: “Sing,” Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy.

Visual Effects: “The Jungle Book,” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon.

– Associated Press

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:11:15 +0000
How would LePage’s plan to outsource park jobs affect visitors? Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — Conservation advocates are raising concerns about Gov. Paul LePage’s proposal to outsource two dozen jobs at Maine’s state parks and to eliminate management positions involved in overseeing historic sites or public lands.

But LePage administration officials say the changes – including the shift to seasonal contract laborers – are aimed at improving efficiency and refocusing resources at a time when the state parks are adding programs and setting visitation records.

“It’s not just the weather that is responsible for higher attendance,” said Walt Whitcomb, commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Lawmakers are expecting a spirited discussion next month when they begin diving into LePage’s budget proposals related to Whitcomb’s department. In many ways, the debate highlights ongoing tensions between the LePage administration and Maine’s outdoor recreation and environmental communities over the decision to merge the Department of Agriculture with the Department of Conservation nearly five years ago.

“The state parks system always had been Maine’s brand … and now it is an increasingly minor sub-bureau within the Department of Agriculture,” said Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust and a former deputy director at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands during the Baldacci administration.

One of the major changes proposed by LePage in his two-year, $6.8 billion budget is to hire contractors to fill 24 seasonal positions within the parks bureau: 14 full-time assistant park rangers, one part-time assistant park ranger and nine full-time laborers. The potential shift to contractors is not expected to save the department money – the $410,000 in payroll for the state employees is transferred to a contractor fund. Instead, Whitcomb said he believes jobs such as lawn maintenance can be done faster and more efficiently by contractors, especially considering the “antiquated” equipment owned by the state.

Popham Beach littered with downed trees after a storm. John Ewing/Staff Photographer


“(Current workers) are good people, but I don’t think we have kept up with the equipment,” Whitcomb said.

Stearns and others warn, however, that the move would hurt the visitor experience because the assistant park rangers and laborers are often the public face of the department during the summer tourism season. Many seasonal workers return year after year, so they know the parks well enough to quickly direct a visitor to a destination or help guide an ambulance through a jam-packed park to an injury scene. Seasonal workers are also a traditional recruiting pool for full-time workers.

“You’ll hear that they’re not laying anybody off, but (seasonal workers) are the meat and potatoes of park labor during the summer,” Stearns said. “The administration will say they are replacing them with contractors. But the reality is … they are doing everything from parking management to crisis (response) and cleaning the toilets.”


Maine’s more than 50 state parks and historic sites reported nearly 2.9 million visitors in 2016, setting an attendance record for the second straight year. The properties range from historic forts and historic sites, such as Colonial Pemaquid, to the immensely popular sandy beaches offered at Popham, Scarborough and Crescent Beach state parks.

The “general operations” budget for Maine’s parks increased 18 percent, from $6.7 million to $7.9 million, between fiscal years 2012 and 2017. But Mainers are also paying more to use their state parks. The price of an annual park pass rose 50 percent this year, from $70 to $105, the first increase since 2002. Single-day entrance fees rose by about $2 at most parks in 2015, and camping fees went up in 2016, increasing from $2 to $5 for a reservation and from $3 to $10 for the actual camping fee.

A worker installs a thatched roof on this replica building at Colonial Pemaquid. Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


Since the consolidation of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Conservation in 2012, the LePage administration has trimmed the number of managers throughout the new, larger agency. And LePage’s fiscal year 2018-19 budget proposes additional cuts to what are largely vacant positions.

For instance, the governor has proposed eliminating one vacant managerial position – technically described as a “public service manager III” – that oversaw much of the field staff and management of Maine’s hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands. The LePage administration also has steadily transferred more oversight of the management of Maine’s 600,000 acres of public lands – for recreational access, wildlife habitat and timber harvesting – to the Maine Forest Service. And in 2015, the Legislature rejected a LePage proposal to dissolve the Bureau of Parks and Lands and disperse its responsibilities among other agencies, including the forest service.

Eliza Donoghue, forests and wildlife policy advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and other conservation advocates have raised alarms that the mission of the forest service is different from that of the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Donoghue said she is hearing significant concerns about the department’s ability to oversee the large number of conservation easements on lands. Far from “making do” with fewer managers, Donoghue said she is hearing concerns from bureau staffers about their ability to carry out the agency’s obligations.

“Just because there is nobody currently filling these positions doesn’t mean they are not very important positions,” Donoghue said. “The stories I am hearing about floundering at the department and the bureau are staggering.”


Stearns oversaw conservation land acquisition as well as planning for four years as deputy director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands under LePage’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. That deputy director position also was proposed for elimination in a previous budget, and Stearns said he fears that the quality of the bureau’s services are being eroded because there are simply fewer people to administer the agency’s many complicated obligations.

Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth attracts about 110,000 people a year. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

“It’s not a question of the fox guarding the henhouse. It’s a situation that even the fox has been laid off,” Stearns said.

Whitcomb, not surprisingly, sees the situation differently. The department has “absolutely” streamlined in recent years, but also has invested heavily in improving handicap access to the parks and addressing the backlog of maintenance projects.

“It’s fair to say that we have looked at middle management, and I think we have tried to keep boots on the ground” by supporting park-level employees rather than those based in Augusta, Whitcomb said. “We are learning to do some of those functions with different folks.”

LePage’s budget also would eliminate the position of historic site specialist, which was essentially the bureau’s chief historian responsible for management, interpretation and restoration of dozens of state-owned historic properties. The position is currently vacant but was previously held by the current director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands, Tom Desjardin, an author and historian who has held several positions in the LePage administration.

While Stearns described Desjardin as “both the primary champion and primary expert” on those historic sites, he worries that trying to balance both the bureau director and chief historian roles simultaneously will be difficult. But Whitcomb said eliminating the historian position makes sense given Desjardin’s experience.

“He is in a position now where he can really focus on that,” Whitcomb said of the state’s historical sites. “I think it’s a model that can work very, very well.”

]]> 0 buddies Stephan Laufer of Germany, left, and Ryan McDermott of Scarborough head toward the water to take advantage of waves at Scarborough Beach State Park. Maine oversees more than 50 state parks and historic sites.Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:41:12 +0000
Maine lawmakers to hear from public on marijuana legalization Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — Lawmakers are looking for public feedback on how to proceed with the many complicated aspects of marijuana legalization.

On Tuesday, a special committee charged with facilitating Maine’s transition into a legal marijuana marketplace will hold a meeting to hear public comments on the process. The 17-member Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation was created to help guide state agencies that will craft the rules and regulations around the industry, as well as to review the dozens of marijuana-related bills pending in the Legislature.

The meeting – at 1 p.m. in Room 216 of the Cross Office Building in Augusta – is not a formal public hearing because the panel is still in the information-gathering stage. But its leaders said they wanted to gather feedback before beginning a review process expected to last into the summer.

“We want to hear from stakeholders and members of the public on a wide range of questions including how to best protect public safety, how to regulate growers, producers and sellers, how to tax the substance, how the law will affect the workplace and more,” Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said in a statement.

“Now that the referendum to legalize marijuana in Maine has passed, the goal of the Joint Select Committee and the entire Legislature is to make sure we implement its legalization in the most responsible manner possible; hearing from stakeholders is one of the first steps in this important process,” Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, said in a statement.

Maine voters legalized recreational marijuana by a slim margin in November, joining seven other states plus the District of Columbia to end prohibitions on adult use of the drug. As of Jan. 30, adults age 21 and over can now legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and up to six adult plants. Marijuana use is only legal in a private setting.

The ballot initiative approved by voters also sets up a process for retail sales of marijuana. However, the Legislature delayed the effective date of that part of the legalization measure until at least February 2018 in order to give state agencies time to draft rules and regulations regarding licensing, sales and enforcement. Lawmakers and state officials will also have to set standards to allow police to better enforce driving under the influence laws for marijuana.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, however, and it is unclear how the new Trump administration will interact with states that have legalized the drug. Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he expects states to be subject to “greater enforcement” of federal laws against recreational marijuana use and Trump’s new attorney general, former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization.

However, the administration has not provided details. And the lack of specifics is causing further uncertainty among law enforcement and some legalization advocates in Maine.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

]]> 0 Roger KatzMon, 27 Feb 2017 06:42:15 +0000
Letter to the editor: Attacks on press not worthy of our nation Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The importance of a free press has never been greater. Neither has the necessity of trustworthy fact checking.

While most presidents can be expected to slant facts in their favor to some extent, Donald Trump’s casual relationship to facts is alarming. Social media plays to the extremists on both sides, and distrust of the media abounds.

In this environment, many may end up feeling that they cannot believe anything, rendering them susceptible to manipulation. The free press is not “the enemy of the people.” It is one of the pillars of our democracy.

The threat to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio should be a red flag to all. Whatever your individual political viewpoint, we all will benefit from being informed about the many issues that confront us. Ideology is not a good tool for effective, fair governance.

Nancy Barber


]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:52:09 +0000
Letter to the editor: Referendum reform is simple: Legislate better Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 If Gov. LePage is so concerned (Feb. 10) that the referendum process needs to be dramatically changed to forestall a future “end run” around the legislative process, perhaps he should consider the likely reason for the proliferation of such referendums in recent years.

It seems obvious to me that the legislative process in Augusta has failed in the past six years, primarily because the governor and legislators cannot agree on common goals. In the meantime, the citizenry grows increasingly frustrated by the lack of effective government in Augusta and takes its only recourse: direct initiatives.

I think those initiatives, if passed, are clear evidence of what the voters want to see achieved. If the legislative process, which is supposed to be representing all the citizens of the state, does not produce any positive results because of its current dysfunctional condition, how else are those represented to realize any goals whatsoever except through referendums?

Warner Price


]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:29:46 +0000
Letter to the editor: Dakota pipeline fight will continue in court Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Last Thursday, I watched hours of live video from the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock. Over 200 police entered the camp in full military gear, rifles drawn, with about 20 armored vehicles, to find and arrest water protectors who were unarmed, nonviolent and prayerful. It looked like a war zone, except the “enemies” were U.S. citizens.

Important points were missing from the Associated Press coverage published in the Portland Press Herald (“Pipeline camp cleared, 46 arrested,” Page A3, Feb. 24).

We can’t forget that the Army Corps of Engineers had just begun an environmental review that was cut off by President Trump. The Dakota Access pipeline is a direct threat to the water of the Missouri River. An analysis has found that Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco had 35 pipeline accidents in 2015 and 2016. We can’t drink oil.

The people at Oceti had been working to clean up the site. In December, thousands converged at Standing Rock to show their support, and then a snowstorm inundated the camp. People had to leave, their belongings buried under snow and ice. Camp members were not given enough time to complete their cleanup. Oceti isn’t the only camp at Standing Rock; other camps continue for water protectors.

The story you published mentions that “protesters maintain the camp was on land that rightfully belongs to American Indians under old treaties.” The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 says the land belongs to the Sioux nations, ratified by Congress on Feb. 16, 1869. According to our Constitution, all treaties are part of “the supreme Law of the land.” The United States has broken every treaty it made with indigenous nations, but that does not make it legal.

Now the fight goes to court, helped by everyone who withdraws money from the banks that have invested in the pipeline. Water is life.

The Rev. Dr. Myke Johnson


]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:28:27 +0000
Letter to the editor: President undermines the press for his own gain Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 The recent assault on the press and newsgathering institutions by President Trump only lays bare the truths he and his minions refuse to accept. By consistently blasting “fake news” and “lies,” he chips away the very foundation of a free and open society.

Had it not been for the media, we may never have known about the Russian contacts with Michael Flynn, then-incoming national security adviser, before Trump’s inauguration, a possible violation of the Logan Act. As has been shown through fact-checking, the only lying that’s been done has been done by the elected head of our country.

Jake Hawkins


]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:32:04 +0000
Letter to the editor: Sen. Collins must stand against efforts to harm Medicare Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I recently sent a letter to Sen. Susan Collins, urging her to resist efforts by her party to tamper with Medicare. She is one of a handful of Senate Republicans who could serve as a firewall against harmful changes to a program that 306,000 Maine seniors and people with disabilities rely upon.

The majority in Congress has proposed to privatize Medicare, raise the eligibility age from 65 to 67 and repeal the Affordable Care Act, which made important improvements to Medicare. These actions will reduce health care coverage and increase out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries already struggling to make ends meet.

Maine’s Medicare beneficiaries have a lot to lose if the ACA’s improvements to Medicare are repealed. The ACA provided Medicare beneficiaries with annual wellness visits and preventive screenings with no out-of-pocket costs. In 2016, 70 percent of Maine seniors took advantage of these free screenings.

The ACA also shrank the Part D prescription drug “doughnut hole.” Repealing that provision will cost seniors an average $1,000 per year. A new study by our foundation revealed that raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 would result in 1.9 million more uninsured seniors nationwide.

Sen. Collins should also oppose plans to privatize Medicare, which would provide seniors with vouchers to buy private insurance. While healthier seniors might opt for private coverage, older and sicker beneficiaries would likely remain in traditional Medicare – resulting in a death spiral for the program.

Seniors only need three Senate Republicans to vote against these harmful changes. Sen. Collins has stood up to her party in the past, when the interests of working Americans were at stake. In Maine, 306,000 seniors and people with disabilities are counting on her to have the courage to do that once again.

Max Richtman

president and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

Washington, D.C.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:31:06 +0000
Events Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 BRUNSWICK

Library offering a series of lectures on gardening

Curtis Memorial Library will offer the free, monthlong series of talks themed “Eat Our Yards: Food for Thought to Plant Your Plot,” from March 1 through April 5 in its Morrell Meeting Room at 23 Pleasant St.

This series of lectures is intended to educate the pubic about turning their yard into a growing space, be it for ornamental, edible or medicinal purposes, via a series of gardening talks offering growing strategies, as well as subjects like caring for bees, growing mushrooms and livestock.

The first two talks will include “Guidance on Town Zoning for Animals and Pest-free Yards (Including Browntail Moths),” headed by Heidi Nelson of Brunswick Animal Control and Mary Ann Nahf of Harpswell Conservation Commission, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and the talk “Vegetable Gardening in Maine,” to be headed by Master Gardener David Elliott from noon to 1 :30 p.m. Friday.

Additional afternoon talks, meeting from noon to 1:30 p.m., include: “Citrus Trees and Indoor Food Gardening” March 8; “Home-scale Dairy and Chickens” March 13; “Backyard Bees” March 29; “Edible Ornamentals” March 31; and “Types of Gardens and Library Resources” on April 3.

Additional evening talks, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. include: “A Medicinal Garden in Your Yard” March 21; “Perennial Vegetables for Maine” March 23; “Grow Your Own Mushrooms” March 30; and “Transform Your Community: Permablitz!” April 5.

For more details, call 725-5242, ext. 228, email or go to


Children can read to a therapy dog named Jack

Jack the Tail Waggin’ Tutor returns to the Kennebunk Free Library from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday to listen to children read.

Children of all ages and abilities are encouraged to sit with Jack, and experience the pleasure of reading to such a nonjudgmental listener. Children often relax in a manner they might not when reading to an adult or sibling. Practice gained by reading to a dog has been shown to help students increase reading fluency.

Jack is a certified therapy dog, and will be accompanied by his favorite humans, Ursula and Kate Roese. He also volunteers at the Kennebunk Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

No registration is needed to participate. The program is free, wheelchair accessible, and open to all.

The library is located at 112 Main St. For more details, call 985-2173.

Food, music, workshops set for winter doldrums

Kennebunk Free Library’s annual Cabin Fever Reliever fundraiser will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at 112 Main St.

The library will be transformed into a midwinter oasis, complete with fine food from Kennebunk’s own Kitchen Chicks Catering, live music from the Kennebunk River Trio, a silent auction fundraiser, and “Pop-Up Relievers,” short workshops sure to educate, entertain, and do away with the winter doldrums.

Tickets are $40 each. For more details, call the library at 985-2173.

Parenting classes are set for first Friday of the month

Stevie Westmoreland, LMFT, LCPC will lead a parenting class at 10 a.m. Friday at the Kennebunk Free Library at 112 Main St.

Future classes will be held on the first Friday of every month at the library. Each month a new topic will be addressed.

The class offers an opportunity for parents, grandparents and caregivers to gather to share the joys and challenges of parenthood. Skills developed will focus on identifying and understanding a child’s four basic feelings, calming ourselves down and the positive effect of mirror neurons with your child.

The event is free.

For more details, go to or call 985-2511.


Story times and parenting programs on tap at library

Wells Public Library will offer the following programs this week at 1434 Post Road:

Mother Goose Storytime will meet at 10:30 a.m. Monday. The event offers lap activities, rhymes, songs, and fingerplays for children up to age 24 months and their caregivers.

Toddler Storytime will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, offering stories, songs, and movement, all followed by a craft for ages 2-5 and their caregivers.

Random Fandom meets at 1 p.m. Wednesday for kids in grades 5-8, who will explore Maker Tech to make a craft, talk about it, eat snacks and play games.

“Active Parenting: The First Five Years” will meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday with Shannon Briggs from Kids Free to Grow located in Kennebunk. The four-week program is intended to educate parents and caregivers how to nurture their child with a “just right” combination of freedom and nonviolent discipline. There is no commitment to attend all four sessions, and children are welcome to accompany adults. Lego and Rubik’s Cube Club will meet at 3 p.m. Friday to build master creations with Legos provided by the library.

Trained AARP Tax Aide volunteers will be at the library from 1 to 6 p.m. each Tuesday through April 11 to answer questions and help with electronically filing taxes.

Conversational French Language Group will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday for an informal approach to practicing or re-learning French.

Fiber Arts Group meets at 10:30 a.m. Friday. All are welcome to bring their projects, like embroider, cross-stitch, sew, weave, quilt, etc.

For more details, call 646-8181.


Auditions open for summer shows at Hackmatack

Hackmatack Playhouse will hold auditions for two of its planned summer theater shows,”She Loves Me” and “The Fantasticks,” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, with callbacks set for Saturday and Sunday, all at the South Berwick Community Center on Norton Street.

For more information go to For appointments for auditions, email or call 698-1807 with questions.


Kindergarten information night planned for Tuesday

Scarborough Primary Schools will host a kindergarten information night at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wentworth School cafeteria at 20 Quentin Drive.

Parents and guardians with children who will turn age 5 on or before Oct. 15 are invited to attend this event. This is an adult-only event.

Rain date is Wednesday.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:16:58 +0000
Births Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Mid Coast Hospital

Micah Bickerman Martens, born Feb. 7 to Benjamin Danylik and Kalyn Erica Bickerman (Martens) of Brunswick. Grandparents are Karen and Peter Bickerman of Readfield and James Martens and Kathryn Danylik-Martens of Sharon, N.H.

Tanner Joseph Brenton Moore, born Feb. 7 to Shana Michaela Cheetham and Brenton David Albert Moore of Bath. Grandparents are Patricia Ouellette and Kimberly Brown.

Willow Grace Nixon, born Feb. 8 to Jessica Lynn (Watson) and Matthew Edward Nixon of Topsham. Grandparents are Ramona and David Watson of South China and Eileen and Thomas Nixon.

Jonathan Daniel Hawkins, born Feb. 9 to Ashley Rae (Millett) and Richard James Hawkins II of Topsham. Grandparents are Kelly Henry of Auburn, Roger Millett of Mechanic Falls and Linda and Richard Hawkins of Gray.

Hunter George-Harold Seymour, born Feb. 10 to Ashley Marie (Jamison) and Paul Jay Seymour Jr. of Bath. Grandparents are Donna J. and Toni S. of Freeport.

Hannah Rose Schultz, born Feb. 11 to Kristen Suzanne (Willis) and Hans Erik Schultz of Bath. Grandparents are Sue and Jack Howren of Norfolk, Va., and Patricia and William Horton of Shiloh, N.C.

Great-grandparent is Vada Igo of Charleston, W.Va.

Aurora Jade Frye, born Feb. 11 to Nicole Kimberly Barry and Bryce Ryan Frye Sr. of Brunswick.

Easton Mitchell Moody, born Feb. 12 to Brian Ronald Moody and Faith Marie Koehling of Bath. Grandparents are Michelle and Thomas Koehling of Bath and Sandy and Ron Moody of Topsham. Great-grandparents are Stan and Sandy Craig of Lisbon Falls, Ronald and Donna Mitchell of Bath and Adrian Closson of Topsham.

Southern Maine Health Care

Ethan Michael Vachon, born Feb. 1 to Brian Vachon Jr. and Dee Delisle of Saco. Grandparents are Richard and Melissa Delisle Sr. of Old Orchard Beach and Brian and Deanna Vachon Sr. of Saco.

Callie Florette Laskey, born Feb. 1 to Chad and Lyndsey (Colby) Laskey of Waterboro.

Harper Knight Mayo, born Feb. 3 to Jeffrey and Sasha (Lovejoy) Mayo of Sanford. Grandparents are Leon and Ruth Lovejoy of Kennebunk and Scott and Debbie Mayo of Acton.

Cameron Parker Collins, born Feb. 3 to Matthew and Jessica (Walker) Collins of Saco. Grandparents are Tina Cote of Hollis, Gary Walker of Waterboro, Robert Collins of Middletown, Del., and Marianne Collins of Saco.

Paige Ann Lestage, born Feb. 5 to David Lestage and Stephanie Raymond of Biddeford. Grandparents are Deborah Libby of Biddeford, Levi Libby III of Buxton, and the late Janice Beking and Ovide Lestage.

Astraea Winter Huett, born Feb. 6 to Dylan Huett and Jessica Prevatt of Sanford. Grandparents are Terry Prevatt of Strafford, N.H., and Kelly Taylor, Dale Fenderson and Lisa Huett, all of Sanford.

Jonas Cipriano Campos, born Feb. 7 to Flavio Campos and Renee Flaherty of Lyman. Grandparents are Janine Flaherty of Lyman, Michael Flaherty of New Gloucester and Jonas Campos and Vera Lucia Menezes of Brazil.

Taylor Anastasia Donegan, born Feb. 8 to Dustin Donegan and Vickie Welch of Biddeford.

Sydney Elizabeth Peck, born Feb. 8 to Robert Peck and Hayley Spear of Kennebunk. Grandparents are Tammy Spear of West Gardiner and Robert and Cheryl Cooper of Terryville, Conn.

Atlas Harrison Bedard, born Feb. 9 to Corey Bedard and Jessica Lane of West Newfield. Grandparents are Grant and Samantha Lane of West Newfield and Michael Bedard and Kelly Greenlaw, both of Acton.

Bella Michelle Bedard, born Feb. 9 to Bryan Bedard and Brooke Thompson of Waterboro. Grandparents are Robert and Ann Thompson and Brian Bedard and Michelle Camire, all of Biddeford.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:35:03 +0000
Community meals Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 WEDNESDAY

Roast chicken with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, dessert. 5 to 6:30 p.m. VFW Post No. 832, 50 Peary Terrace, South Portland. 767-2575. $7.

Community meal, free. 5 p.m., Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge St., Westbrook. Co-sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church and Wayside Food Programs. Free parking, handicapped-accessible.


Community meal, free. 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 678 Washington Ave., Portland. Open to all, in collaboration with Wayside Food Programs.


Haddock chowder and lobster roll luncheon, also featuring egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches, potato chips, pickles and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., North Deering Congregational Church, 1364 Washington Ave., Portland. A la carte and combo prices range from $5 to $13. Fresh bread also sold for $2. 797-2487.


Baked haddock church supper, 5 to 6:15 p.m. St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Black Point Road, Scarborough. $9, $5 children, $28 families.

Baked bean supper, with homemade kidney and pea beans, hot dogs, coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, homemade biscuits, and a variety of homemade pies. 4:30 to 6 p.m., White Rock Community Clubhouse, 34 Wilson Road, Gorham. $8, $4 for children under 12.

Public supper, featuring home-baked beans, coleslaw, casseroles, homemade pies, coffee and punch. 4:30 to 6 p.m. Randolph United Methodist Church, 16 Asbury St., Randolph. $8, $4 for children under 12. 582-5188

Baked bean supper, with casseroles, salads, breads and pies. 4:30 p.m. Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, 280 Ocean House Road (Route 77), Cape Elizabeth. $8, $5 children, $20 families. 799-8396

Baked bean and casserole supper with homemade kidney beans, peas, casseroles, coleslaw, homemade pies and beverages, 5 to 6 p.m., American Legion, 15 Lewiston Road, Gray. $8, $4 for children under 12.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:16:38 +0000
Briefs Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 BIDDEFORD

High schoolers honored for displaying character

Biddeford High School held its first Tiger PRIDE ceremony in which students were honored for upholding the values of perseverance, respect, integrity, dependability and empathy.

Thirty-nine students were nominated by their teachers for each category, with a student from each category named the overall recipient.

The award nominees include: Perseverance – Austin Barnes-Waggoner, Morganne Bragdon, Katlyn Brooks, Chantel Gagnon, Victoria Lambert, Zoe LeComte, Pat Martin, Lina Nguyen, Kara Williams and Hailey Woodman; Respect – Andrew Curtiss, Lina Nguyen and Cameron Roy; Integrity – Grace Laverriere and Lina Nguyen; Dependability – Brianna Adams, Nadya Buffum, Trevor Dube, Cameron Roy and Ashlin Ruel; Empathy – Penny Breyman, Crystal Gammon and Jillian Greenleaf; and overall Tiger PRIDE – Anthony Ayala, Jared Bayley, Kyle Bshara, Keisha Dedrick, Caroline Gallant, Grace Martin, Kairlye McQueen, Addison Moore, Ernest Nijimbere, Jasmine Ross, Shane Spaulding, Alex Truehart and Olivia Whitaker.

Of all the students nominated, BHS junior Katlyn Brooks was chosen as the overall Tiger PRIDE recipient for exemplifying excellence in all five categories.


Essay contest invites solutions to drug crisis

The Margaret Chase Smith Library invites Maine high school seniors to describe how they would address the current lethal-drug epidemic as part of the library’s 21st annual essay contest, this year centered on drug abuse.

As far back as 1951, Sen. Smith warned that “one of the great threats to our country today is the preying of narcotic peddlers upon our children.”

Entries are due April 1, and decisions will be announced May 1. Prizes are $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, $250 for third place and $50 for five honorable mentions.

For more details, call John Taylor at 474-7133.


Maine Maritime Museum selects new chief curator

The Maine Maritime Museum’s Anne Witty has been selected as chief curator. She will replace the museum’s senior curator, Nathan Lipfert, who will retire in April following a 40-plus year career at the museum.

Witty began serving in her new role in January to ease the transition of Lipfert’s spring departure.

She is enthusiastic about returning to the museum, having previously served there as curator from 2000 to 2003.

Since 2004, Witty has served as assistant curator of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College.

She has prior experience at Mystic Seaport, Columbia River Maritime Museum and Winterthur Museum, and she has held consulting positions, fellowships and internships at museums across the U.S. and Europe.


Download Library moving to app-based platform

The Maine InfoNet Download Library will be moving to a brand new e-book and e-audiobook platform called cloudLibrary beginning Wednesday. This will replace the Overdrive platform that will be turned off Tuesday.

Once the system is live, users may download the app for their device by going to or going to and following the links to log in.

The Download Library will continue to offer readers nearly all of the current collection of more than 10,000 digital titles, plus new titles and additional copies of popular titles.

The cloudLibrary will offer patrons an app-based user experience that makes it easier to download e-books and e-audiobooks.

The cloudLibrary app highlights the best and freshest titles in the collection and allows for customization.

Users of Kindle devices should be advised that the Kindle Fire (2nd generation or newer) works with the cloudLibrary, but e-ink Kindles do not.

The cloudLibrary system is best used through the cloudLibrary app. You can download the app, called cloudLibrary, in the Playstore for Android devices, the App Store for Apple/ iOS devices and the Windows Store for Windows devices. For Kindle Fire devices go to and click on the “Available on Kindle Fire” link on the right side of the page.

You can also access the cloudLibrary system using a browser by going to, selecting your library from the list provided and logging in with your library card.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 17:47:24 +0000
Blood Drives Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Tuesday

2 to 6 p.m. Bath Knights of Columbus Hall, 807 Middle St., Bath. This is an extra drive to meet winter needs. Call 800-RED-CROSS for an appointment. Drop-ins welcomed. Call Tony Masulaitis at 443-5389.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:09:06 +0000
Maine Voices: Much-maligned lawyers represented the best of our nation in airports Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 YARMOUTH — In the aftermath of President Trump’s hastily written and issued executive order that sought to immediately stop the immigration of already vetted people from certain mostly Muslim countries, Americans across the nation spontaneously swarmed to U.S. airports to protest this assault upon our Constitution.

Among the throng were hundreds of volunteer lawyers, who sat down with detained émigrés, often all night long, on airport floors, recording the facts of their cases, and rushing to court to block the order. Among them were professors and law students from my alma mater. This scene reminded me why I had wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. I was very proud.

Lawyers are often derided as among the least trusted professions, right after politicians and used-car salesmen. But when you are in trouble, who do you call? And when the nation is in trouble with a president who seems to have little respect for the rule of law, to whom do we turn to protect our civil liberties?

As Linda Greenhouse, a columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote, “The judiciary is all that stands between the president and constitutional chaos.” Lawyers are the gateway to the courts. For lawyers of every political stripe, the president’s implication that his will and unilateral order should trump, so to speak, the ruling of a “so-called judge” were fighting words.

Lawyers are trained to respect courts, even when they disagree with their rulings. When we disagree with a law, we are trained to follow or challenge that law, using the body of existing law, in court. The alternative to the rule of law is the absence of a way to peacefully settle disagreements, whether over a contract, a traffic violation or immigration policy.

Ultimately, previous presidents also bowed to the authority of this co-equal branch of our government, even when their political future was at stake. Thus, President Richard Nixon followed the Supreme Court order to release his tape-recorded conversations relating to Watergate; George W. Bush readily acceded to rulings on Guantanamo, among other orders.

A president’s refusal to obey a final court ruling would pose a constitutional crisis. The courts have no power of their own to enforce. Rather, they rely on America’s core belief in fidelity to the law. If the ban is struck down, will Homeland Security border bureaucrats defy the president, even if they agree with his position? Would the military? It is not hyperbole to liken the crisis to the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe. It was the Nuremberg trials that established the principle that following orders is not always a defense.

What differentiates the United States from those forsaken nations is the strength not only of our independent judiciary and the civil society that produces lawyers and citizens willing to put their liberty on the line to protect our democracy and the rule of law. It is the shared values of the American people. Will we be up to the task?

Sometimes I wonder. Many people who supported Donald Trump in the election did not take his most outrageous statements seriously. Ban all Muslims? Build a wall to keep out those raping, murdering Mexicans? Exaggerations intended to grab headlines and votes. they rationalized. What they cared about was restoring jobs and respect for the class of people who had been ignored by the coastal elites. He would bring back jobs, they figured.

Now that he has packed his Cabinet with Wall Street billionaires intent on fattening that sector, are they worried? Do they care that a man dedicated to destroying it heads the Environmental Protection Agency? Perhaps they think discarding Clean Air and Clean Water regulations will bring jobs back to coal country. But the nation has moved on – coal is no longer the fuel of choice, for a number of reasons. And in this area, too, regression will be fought hard in the courts. Environmental lawyers and law students are gearing up to save the planet with invigorated legal rescue efforts.

A democracy rests on common values. Most of us pay our taxes because it is the law, not because the Internal Revenue Service is standing over our shoulders. We follow the law not just because a penalty is theoretically possible, but because we understand that it is part of our duty as good citizens. At least I hope this is our shared belief. If I am wrong, we are in for some dangerous times.

— Special to the Press Herald

]]> 0 Sat, 25 Feb 2017 23:24:08 +0000
Our View: When issues get steamy, Rep. Bruce Poliquin clams up Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:00 +0000 You’ll have to guess where 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin stands on the future of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. If he has an opinion, he’s not talking about it.

We know where Gov. LePage stands – he’s begging President Trump to act outside his legal authority to undo the monument designation and put the 87,500 acres back into private hands.

We know where Sen. Angus King stands – he’s said that reversing the designation would be a setback to progress in a region that desperately needs it. We know where Sen. Susan Collins stands – she opposed the designation but now considers it to be a done deal and should be allowed to move forward.

We even know where 1st District Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree stands – as an enthusiastic supporter of what could become a major attraction for the state’s tourism economy.

But the member of Congress whose district encompasses the entire parcel and whose constituents would be most affected by any change to its status has nothing he wants to add.

“My No. 1 priority in Congress is creating and protecting jobs in Maine,” the Republican congressman said in a statement – as if the gift of a large parcel of land to serve as a federally managed park in the heart of his district would not have an impact on jobs.

“I will be reviewing next steps in helping elevate economic growth in the Katahdin region and look forward to working with all groups and parties to ensure that the priorities and best interests of the local communities are put first, always.”

But what about this “next step,” congressman? What if the president accepts the governor’s invitation and puts the future of the monument into limbo? What would that do to the economic growth of the Katahdin region? How would that affect the creation and preservation of jobs in Maine?

Poliquin is not talking.

If this sounds familiar, it should. When Trump issued what was found to be an illegal executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, Poliquin had nothing to say. “The congressman will not be voting on these executive orders,” explained spokesman Brendan Conley, as if a federal government action that threatened to break up families was of no concern to a member of Congress.

You also may remember Poliquin’s stand in the recent presidential election, which was no stand at all.

Collins, a Republican, made headlines by saying that she could not vote for Trump, even though he was her party’s nominee. King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, came out forcefully for Hillary Clinton.

But Poliquin claimed that it was not his job “to tell people how to vote.”

Has there ever been a public official in Maine who gets so much attention for saying so little?

Poliquin has been characteristically busy in recent months, sending out frequent news releases about his activities. He’s posted photographs of his name plate on his Veterans Affairs Committee room desk, and he’s announced the winners of the 2nd District high school art contest.

What he hasn’t done is visit his district for unstructured meetings with constituents in town hall settings, and he hasn’t chosen to comment on the biggest issues facing the nation and his district in the first few weeks of this administration. The last public event posted on his website was in August, and no future events are scheduled.

It’s obvious why Poliquin is doing this: He doesn’t want to upset critics of the new administration or his hard-core conservative supporters, so he stands on the sidelines whenever he can.

But why people in his district let him get away with it is a mystery. In these polarized times, it’s hard to see how anybody could be satisfied with a congressman who tries to straddle every issue.

Until they force him to change, however, expect Poliquin to keep everybody guessing where he stands.

]]> 0 Bruce Poliquin is the only member of the Maine delegation who won't say whether he wants President Trump to undo the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation.Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:53:51 +0000
NHL roundup: Win moves Blue Jackets past Rangers Mon, 27 Feb 2017 04:13:54 +0000 NEW YORK — Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg each scored twice to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Columbus won for the second time in two days after its bye week and moved past the Rangers into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots to tie his career high with his 32nd win. Josh Anderson also scored and Oliver Bjorkstrand had two assists to help the Blue Jackets win for the fourth time in five games.

BLACKHAWKS 4, BLUES 2: Artem Anisimov scored with 5:20 left in the third period to lift host Chicago to its fourth straight win and ninth in the last 10 games.

Anisimov beat Jake Allen on the glove side from the right edge of the crease for his 22nd goal after taking a pinpoint cross-ice pass from linemate Artemi Panarin. Tanner Kero added an empty-netter with 2.6 seconds left.

Patrick Kane assisted on Anisimov’s winner and scored a power-play goal. Jonathan Toews also had a goal and an assist for surging Chicago, which pulled one point behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

PREDATORS 5, OILERS 4: Filip Forsberg scored for the fourth straight game, Viktor Arvidsson got the go-ahead goal as Nashville won at home.

Ryan Ellis, Vernon Fiddler and Colin Wilson also scored for Nashville, winners of three straight. James Neal had three assists.

Connor McDavid, Milan Lucic, Mark Letestu and Jordan Eberle scored for Edmonton, which has lost three of four.

FLAMES 3, HURRICANES 1: Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist to help Calgary win at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames. They have earned at least one point in six straight games, going 5-0-1 in that stretch to move into playoff position in the Western Conference.

SENATORS 2, PANTHERS 1: Kyle Turris scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and Craig Anderson stopped 37 shots to lift Ottawa to a win at Sunrise, Florida.

Zack Smith had an early short-handed goal for the Senators, who have won four of their last six games.


A PERSON WITH knowledge of the trade said the Minnesota Wild have acquired Czech center Martin Hanzal from the Arizona Coyotes.

The move signals an aggressive approach from the Wild, who narrowly lead the Central Division and Western Conference over the Chicago Blackhawks.

THE LOS ANGELES Kings acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade including goalie Peter Budaj and an exchange of draft picks.

The Kings will pair Bishop with Jonathan Quick in a remarkable veteran goaltending tandem down the stretch of the regular season.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 23:13:54 +0000
NBA roundup: Westbrook scores 41 in Thunder’s victory Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:58:02 +0000 OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 41 points in his 29th triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-110 on Sunday night.

Westbrook had 21 points in the fourth quarter. He shot 7 for 19 from the field the first three quarters and was 7 for 10 in the fourth. He also had 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the 66th triple-double of his career.

Enes Kanter had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Steven Adams added 13 points and 10 boards for the Thunder, who won their third straight.

Anthony Davis scored 38 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points and 10 rebounds, but he played just 22 minutes and fouled out while getting dunked on by Westbrook. The Pelicans fell to 0-3 since acquiring Cousins in a trade with Sacramento.

RAPTORS 112, TRAIL BLAZERS 91: DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points and Serge Ibaka added 18 as Toronto won at home.

The Raptors won their third in a row and wrapped up a second straight season sweep of Portland. They previously had beaten the Trail Blazers 95-91 in Portland on Dec. 26.

Damian Lillard scored 28 points for the Trail Blazers, who got 18 from Maurice Harkless.

SPURS 119, LAKERS 98: Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and San Antonio won a rout in Los Angeles’ first home game since Magic Johnson took over the franchise’s basketball operations.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points for the Spurs, who have won four straight and nine of 11.

Pau Gasol added 15 points against his former team, and the Southwest Division leaders had little trouble with the Lakers, who have lost four straight and 15 of 19.

BUCKS 100, SUNS 96: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, Tony Snell made a clinching 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds as the Bucks held on for a win at home.

Michael Beasley added 17 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 15 as the Bucks swept the two-game season series with the Suns. Greg Monroe finished with 14 points and Snell had 13.

JAZZ 102, WIZARDS 92: Gordon Hayward scored 30 points while Rudy Gobert added 15 points and 20 rebounds as visiting Utah won its third straight.

Northwest Division-leading Utah led by as many as 24 points before Washington got within six with just over 2 minutes left. Hayward hit a pair of jumpers to seal the win.

George Hill added 21 points for Utah.

GRIZZLIES 105, NUGGETS 98: Mike Conley scored 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as Memphis held on for a win at Denver.

Zach Randolph finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis, which snapped a two-game skid.

]]> 0 City guard Russell Westbrook is fouled by New Orleans forward DeMarcus Cousins, right, during the Thunder's 118-110 win Sunday in Oklahoma City.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:58:02 +0000
Trump hosts annual Governors’ Ball Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:54:51 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump toasted the nation’s governors Sunday night, welcoming state leaders to a black-tie ball at the White House ahead of discussions about his plans to repeal and replace the so-called Obamacare law.

Trump welcomed 46 governors and their spouses to the annual Governors’ Ball at the White House, the first major social event of his administration. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who supported Trump during the campaign, was in the Washington area over the weekend for the Conservative Political Action Conference.

At the White House, the president congratulated first lady Melania Trump on the elegant candle-lit event in the State Dining Room, telling the audience, “The room, they say, has never looked better, but who knows.”

During his toast, the president noted his Monday meeting with the governors at the White House, saying, “Perhaps health care will come up,” a nod to the effort in Congress to repeal and replace the health care law installed under President Obama.

Trump saluted the nation’s governors, joking that “it’s such an easy job you have.”

Despite some of the turmoil at the start of his administration, and legal challenges to his executive order temporarily banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Trump told the governors he had already made strides.

“I can say that after four weeks – it’s been a lot of fun – but we’ve accomplished almost everything we’ve started out to accomplish. The borders are stricter, tighter,” Trump said, praising the work of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

He added: “We’re very happy with the way things are working but, again, we’ve made a lot of promises over the last two years and many of those promises already are kept so we’re very honored by that.”

]]> 0 Trump makes a toast during a dinner reception for the annual National Governors Association winter meeting Sunday in the State Dining Room at the White House.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 23:23:23 +0000
Trump’s early budget slashes EPA, other favorite Republican targets Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:53:22 +0000 WASHINGTON — The White House is moving to propose slashing cuts to longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency in a set of marching orders to agencies as it prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Capitol Hill aides say the White House budget office will send proposed levels for the 2018 budget year to agencies Monday. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information and a sensitive process.

The Pentagon is due for a huge boost, as President Trump promised during the campaign, but many non-defense agencies and foreign aid programs are facing cuts. The specific numbers aren’t final and agencies will have a chance to argue against the cuts as part of a longstanding tradition at the budget office.

Trump’s budget is expected in mid-March.

In an interview with Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said cuts to Social Security and Medicare would not be part of the administration’s first budget. Trump’s priority is passing legislation to reduce middle-class and corporate taxes, he said.

The White House budget office issued a statement confirming that an interim budget submission will be released in mid-March but declining to comment on an “internal discussion.”

“The president and his Cabinet are working collaboratively to create a budget that keeps the president’s promises to secure the country and restore fiscal sanity to how we spend American taxpayers’ money,” said Office of Management and Budget spokesman John Czwartacki.

Czwartacki said the March submission would only address agency operating budgets funded by Congress, and that proposals on tax reform and so-called mandatory programs – they include food stamps, student loans, health programs and farm subsidies – will be released later.

The March release is also expected to include an immediate infusion of cash for the Pentagon that’s expected to register about $20 billion or so and contain the first wave of funding for Trump’s promised border wall and other initiatives like hiring immigration agents.

By increasing defense and leaving Medicare and Social Security untouched, the Trump final budget plan is sure to project sizable deficits. In the campaign, Trump promised huge tax cuts but top Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin don’t want this year’s tax reform drive to add to the budget deficit.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:53:22 +0000
Christians, Muslims share a meal and fellowship in Scarborough Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:51:25 +0000 SCARBOROUGH — Sharing a meal to promote good will and understanding is a practice as old as humanity itself and one that is threaded through ethnic and religious traditions around the globe.

Jesus Christ perfected what is known as the table ministry, regularly inviting people of all stripes to share food and hear his words, right up to the reckoning of the Last Supper with his closest followers.

So the parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe Roman Catholic Church were treading in well-worn footsteps on Sunday when they hosted a Building Bridges dinner to promote fellowship between natives and newcomers in Greater Portland.

“The breaking of bread is a naturally symbolic event,” Monsignor Michael Henchal said as dinner was about to be served. “What we’re doing here is an extension of that.”

About 250 Christians, Muslims and others got to know one another a little better Sunday evening over mounds of aromatic rice, roasted chicken, stuffed vegetables and golden pastry filled with spicy beef. Participants of all ages included refugees and other immigrants from Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Middle Eastern music played and some people danced.

The parish organized the dinner following President Trump’s recent crackdown on refugees and undocumented immigrants, but it was in the works for more than a year. Henchal, who also is pastor of St. John and Holy Cross Parish in South Portland and St. Bartholomew Parish in Cape Elizabeth, got the idea when he heard a radio news report that said many Americans feared Muslim immigrants, but few Americans had actually met one.

“I figured if we’re going to be neighbors, we need to get to know each other,” Henchal said. “Food is one of the most powerful ways to break down barriers and come to understand that for all of our differences, we have much more in common.”

Elizabeth Campbell, a parishioner who headed the dinner effort, said the gathering was an opportunity for many church members to offer a more welcoming experience than their ancestors received when they came from Ireland, Italy and other countries decades ago.

“It’s all about love and peace and our brothers and sisters,” Campbell said. “There’s always change. It’s a good thing. A mosaic or a melting pot. Whatever it is, it’s what makes us American.”

The dinner was planned with help from Zoe Sahloul, executive director of the New England Arab American Organization in Westbrook, and her husband, Walid Moumneh, a business analyst who works in information technology at Idexx in Westbrook. The couple came from Lebanon to Maine 20 years ago and are raising three children in Falmouth.

“The main reason we’re here is because we’ve noticed there is a gap between cultures that is furthering the misunderstanding that immigrants aren’t contributors to our communities,” Moumneh said. “We want to narrow and bridge that gap.”

Moumneh noted that the tradition of fasting among Muslims helps believers grow closer to God, appreciate what they have and feel compassion for others who suffer without. Sharing a meal allows people to open up, reach out and communicate.

“We need more of this,” said Sahloul, his wife. “Whenever we have the chance, we need to come together. If everyone would open up their minds, I think they can see the goodness in all people.”

Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland praised the dinner as a way to show support for and solidarity with the Muslim community at a time of uncertainty in the United States.

“Hopefully, individuals and families in our local communities will be inspired by the dinner to extend kindness to people who may have different beliefs,” Deeley said in a written statement. “The way of God is not division, but peace.”

Mike Audet, 78, a former WGAN-AM news anchorman, attended the dinner with his wife, Frances. Audet found his French-speaking skills came in handy sharing a table with Nende Makyambe, 37, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to come from a war-torn country to a place where everything is different,” Audet said.

Makyambe, who is Christian, attended the dinner with three of his four children. His wife was at home in Portland with their youngest. Makyambe and his family came to Portland eight months ago from Tanzania, where they lived for the last 20 years, waiting to come to the United States. There, he worked as a mason. Here, he works in the packaging department at Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland.

Makyambe said he was surprised and pleased to see Christians and Muslims socializing and getting along.

“In my whole life, I have never seen this, where people of different faiths sit down and share a meal,” Makyambe said through Audet. “I love this. It makes me very happy.”


]]> 0 Dell'Aquila, center, Habso Ali, 8, left, and others interact during the Building Bridges dinner at Saint Maximilian Kolbe church in Scarborough. "We need more of this," said Zoe Sahloul of Westbrook. "Whenever we have the chance, we need to come together."Sun, 26 Feb 2017 23:46:07 +0000
As drugs surge, New Hampshire takes away prison inmate perks Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:37:21 +0000 CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire prison officials don’t allow inmates to get legal briefs through the mail; they’ve removed vending machines and board games from visiting rooms, and have barred prisoners and visitors from kissing.

The state insists the restrictions are needed to stop drugs from entering the prisons.

Fueled by the ongoing opioid crisis, officials said that drugs in prisons are on the rise and that the numbers of inmates testing positive for drugs has more than tripled since 2014.

“I am responsible for maintaining a safe and secure facility for the safekeeping of all inmates,” said William Wren, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections.

New Hampshire is part of a growing number of states that are cracking down in the face of an opioid crisis. The opioid-substitute Suboxone, which comes in thin, translucent film form that looks like breath strips, is becoming a popular drug in prisons. One strip goes for as much as $300 behind bars.

Corrections officials in New Hampshire say visitors are coming up with increasingly innovative ways to get drugs inside.

Several New Hampshire jails have introduced visits by video, which critics have suggested is more about saving money than fighting drugs. They’re doing the same in Maine.

“It’s really in response to contraband that was getting in. I felt that it was concerning enough for me just to cancel them,” said York County sheriff William King. In-person visits were dropped there after a string of overdoses in 2015.

The restrictions have angered inmates and their supporters, with inmates at a Berlin, New Hampshire, prison refusing to eat for a day in protest over the policy of no kissing and limited hugging.

Inmates in a Concord prison lit a small fire in a protest that led to a three-day lockdown. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire has a 2015 federal lawsuit pending on behalf of a prisoner’s mother and 3-year-old son over a ban on greeting cards, picture postcards and children’s drawings.

“We all understand that drugs being smuggled into the prison is something that should be prevented. We have no doubt that Suboxone is a problem in New Hampshire prisons,” said Gilles Bissonnette, the group’s legal director. “But I don’t think the way to address that is to indiscriminately ban innocent speech including speech of a child to their loved one in prison.”

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:37:21 +0000
Ex-NHL player suspended as youth hockey coach Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:35:56 +0000 BUFFALO, N.Y. — Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.

Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.

A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.

The Junior Sabres suspended Peters immediately after the game.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Peters was known for his physical style while playing six NHL seasons , including five with the Sabres.

He has maintained a home in Buffalo and works for the Sabres as a co-host of a show titled “The Enforcers,” which is broadcast daily on TV and radio.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:35:56 +0000
Sunday’s college roundup: USM’s Del Gallo makes NCAA tournament again Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:30:47 +0000 BRISTOL, R.I. — Southern Maine University wrestler Daniel Del Gallo qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament for the third consecutive year.

Del Gallo, a senior, finished second in the 149-pound weight class at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on Saturday. His major decision win (15-4) over WPI’s Tyler Marsh in the championship semifinals secured Del Gallo a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Del Gallo was pinned by Sam Schneider of Ithaca in the championship match.

The NCAA national tournament starts March 10 at La Crosse, Wisconsin.


MAINE SPLITS DOUBLEHEADER: Nick Silva pitched six shutout innings and Tyler Schwanz had a solo home run to help the Black Bears (3-4) beat South Dakota State (2-4) 6-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Del Ray, Florida.

Maine dropped its second game, 6-3, to Central Connecticut State (4-1). Jeremy Pena led Maine with a two-run double.


(7) LOUISVILLE 88, SYRACUSE 68: Donovan Mitchell had six 3-pointers among his 25 points as host Louisville (23-6, 11-5 ACC) rebounded from a loss at No. 8 North Carolina.

UCF 53, (15) CINCINNATI 49: B.J. Taylor scored 27 points and 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall had seven points and four blocked shots in an upset in Orlando, Florida.

MICHIGAN STATE 84, (16) WISCONSIN 74: Nick Ward had 22 points and nine rebounds in a win in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans (18-11, 10-6 Big Ten) have won six of their last eight games, perhaps sealing their spot in a 20th straight NCAA tournament.

The Badgers (22-7, 11-5) have lost four of five.

(21) NOTRE DAME 64, GEORGIA TECH 60: Bonzie Colson had 20 points and 11 rebounds in South Bend, Indiana.

Matt Farrell added 17 points for the Irish (22-7, 11-5 ACC, who have won five straight.

(22) BUTLER 88, XAVIER 79: Kelan Martin had another big game, scoring 25 points as Butler pulling away in the closing minutes in Cincinnati.

The Bulldogs (23-6, 12-5 Big East) were coming off a 74-66 victory at No. 2 Villanova, one of the biggest road wins in their history.


(2) MARYLAND 93, MINNESOTA 60: Maryland clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season title with a win in College Park, Maryland, capping a special day for senior stars Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough.

Jones had 24 points and 14 rebounds while Walker-Kimbrough tallied 27 points and six assists.

TENNESSEE 82, (3) MISISSIPPI STATE 64: Jaime Nared scored a career-high 30 points as Tennessee (19-10, 10-6 SEC) earned a surprisingly easy upset at Starkville, Mississippi.

Mississippi State (27-3, 13-3) has lost two straight games to end the regular season.

(5) NOTRE DAME 79, FLORIDA STATE 61: Brianna Turner scored 24 points to lead the host Irish (27-3, 15-1 ACC) to their fourth straight ACC regular season title.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:40:44 +0000
Sports Digest: Shiffrin’s remarkable run extends lead in standings Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:17:28 +0000 SKIING

Shiffrin’s remarkable run extends lead in standings

A stunning run by Mikaela Shiffrin won her the Alpine combined race at Crans Montona, Switzerland, to extend her advantage in the overall standings.

Shiffrin was seventh after the super-G portion and the American knew she could make it up in her favorite discipline.

And so it proved as Shiffrin blew away her rivals on the final third of the course to finish 0.7 seconds above Federica Brignone and 0.85 seconds ahead of Ilka Stuhec, who is the American’s closest challenger for the overall title.

MEN’S WORLD CUP: Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud secured the men’s World Cup super-G title at Kvitfjell, Norway, as Peter Fill won the race.

The reigning Olympic super-G champion, Jansrud finished seventh to secure the super-G title with a race to spare as he leads by 126 points over Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

NORDIC: Russia won the men’s cross-country skiing team sprint at the world championships after a dramatic last-lap crash wrecked the chances of the two leading teams at Lahti, Finland.

Norway’s Emil Iversen was fighting for the lead with Finland’s Iivo Niskanen but they collided as the Finn moved to overtake on the inside of the final bend.

Sergei Ustyugov took the win for Russia, overtaking Italian Federico Pellegrino on the final stretch to win by 2.2 seconds.


DELRAY BEACH OPEN: Top-seeded Milos Raonic withdrew from the final after injuring his hamstring a day earlier, giving the title to Jack Sock.

Raonic slightly tore his right hamstring Saturday night, feeling a sharp pain while chasing down a drop shot in his semifinal victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

RIO OPEN: Dominic Thiem won on his favorite surface of clay at Rio de Janeiro, a win he hopes will jump-start his season after a slow start.

Thiem claimed his eighth ATP singles title and his sixth on clay with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.


ENGLAND: In Sunday’s only Premier League game, Harry Kane scored a first-half hat trick before setting up Dele Alli’s strike in a 4-0 win as Tottenham moved to second in the standings, 10 points behind Chelsea.

Tottenham’s eighth successive league win at White Hart Lane equals the club record set in 2009.

n Zlatan Ibrahimovic powered in a late header at London to win the League Cup for Manchester United, sealing a 3-2 victory over Southampton after a two-goal lead was thrown away by Jose Mourinho’s team.

Mourinho became the first manager in United history to win a trophy in his first season, adding to his three League Cup triumphs with Chelsea.


NFL: Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam faces marijuana, oxycodone and reckless driving charges after being arrested in Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade County jail records show Elam was arrested Sunday. He was charged with possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver or sell and possession of a controlled substance, oxycodone. He was being held on $15,500 bail.

The Panthers re-signed defensive end Mario Addison to a three-year contract.

Addison had a career-high 91/2 sacks last season for Carolina, including eight in the final nine games.


]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:42:19 +0000
Rivers in southern, central and western Maine on flood watch Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:12:00 +0000 Most of the rivers and streams in southern, central and western Maine were placed under a flood watch Sunday by the National Weather Service, which warned that the recent warming trend could cause ice jams to melt and break up.

The jams have the potential to flood streets and roadways, according to the weather service, which issued the flood watch on Sunday afternoon. It will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Monday.

Meteorologist Michael Ekster said the weather service will be keeping an eye on all rivers and streams in the area. He said the Kennebec River does have the potential to flood.

“Recent warm temperatures have generated significant melting of the snowpack,” the weather service said in a statement posted on its website. “This melting combined with recent rainfalls will result in elevated water levels on area rivers and streams.”

Portland is in the midst of an unusual late February warming trend, which started Friday when the high temperature hit 53 degrees. It was 50 degrees on Saturday, 46 degrees on Sunday, and the high for Monday could reach 52 degrees.

Concord, New Hampshire, set a new record Friday when the temperature there climbed to 69 degrees. That broke a record of 68 degrees set on Feb. 24, 1880, Ekster said.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:43:01 +0000
Oscar botch eclipses ‘Moonlight’ win, but civility reigns Mon, 27 Feb 2017 03:05:26 +0000 LOS ANGELES —  The 89th Academy Awards got off on the right foot, with a song and dance, but ended with the most stunning mistake ever to befall the esteemed awards show when the best picture Oscar was presented to the wrong movie. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, holding an incorrect envelope, wrongly presented the top prize to “La La Land,” instead of “Moonlight.”

The moment at the conclusion of the Sunday night show was so jaw-dropping, it eclipsed everything else in a ceremony that was packed to the brim with Donald Trump jabs, fun stunts, heartfelt positivity and a stunning upset by “Moonlight” over what had been a “La La” juggernaut throughout award season. Yet somehow, even the embarrassing moment pivoted into grace.

As confusion and bafflement overwhelmed those in the Dolby Theatre and at home on their couches, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins and “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle shared a hug on the back of the stage, out of sight from the television cameras.
“The folks of ‘La La Land’ were so gracious. I can’t imagine being in their position and having to do that,” Jenkins told reporters backstage. “It was unfortunate that things happened as they did but, goddamn, we won best picture.”

Oscar tabulators PwC, in their 83rd year providing the service to the academy, later apologized to all in a statement and are investigating why it happened.

There’s no denying, though, that “Moonlight’s” win over “La La Land” was a massive upset, made only more pointed by the envelope gaffe. Chazelle’s candy-colored musical was widely presumed to be a shoo-in for the top prize after its record-tying 14 nominations and a relative sweep of award season. The film still won six Oscars, including best director for Chazelle, who at 32 became the youngest ever to take the prize, and for score, song (“City of Stars”) and actress to Emma Stone.

The actress, who pledged her deep love of “Moonlight,” said later, “Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time? Cool!”

The academy usually throws awards at films that gaze lovingly at Hollywood, but Barry Jenkins’ heartfelt coming-of-age drama seduced academy voters in the end — a subtle tide change perhaps informed by both a prickly political climate and an urgent imperative to honor more diverse films after two consecutive years of OscarsSoWhite.

Diversity could be found in every corner of the awards this year, with supporting acting wins for “Moonlight’s” Mahershala Ali and “Fences'” Viola Davis, although the best actor category proved to be a bit of an upset when Casey Affleck won for “Manchester by the Sea” over Denzel Washington of “Fences,” who had picked up momentum in recent weeks.

The improvement followed efforts by Academy of Motions Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs to diversify the membership of the largely white, older and male film academy. “Tonight is proof that art has no borders, no single language and does not belong to a single faith,” said Isaacs.

Davis gave a particularly powerful speech in which she praised the late “Fences” playwright August Wilson who, she said, “Exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.” Kimmel said later that Davis, “Just got nominated for an Emmy for that speech.”
Ezra Edelman, whose nearly eight hour epic “O.J.: Made in America” took best documentary, dedicated the award to the victims of the famous crime, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Rich Moore, one of the three directors of Disney’s best animated film winner “Zootopia,” described the movie as about “tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other.”

The majority of speeches were moving and personal and generally in praise of art’s ability to create empathy in the world, including Jenkins’ in his win for adapted screenplay, who said, “All you people out there who feel like there isn’t a mirror out there for you, the Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”

But not one speech came close to Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes barnburner.

“Personally, I didn’t say anything because my head was completely blank,” Affleck said backstage of his not political speech.
Instead, politics stayed largely with host Jimmy Kimmel, who kept his barbs coy and irreverent, stating at the start that he wasn’t the man to unite the country.

The host peppered the evening with digs at President Trump, at one point asking the crowd to stand for the “overrated Meryl Streep,” and, later, for any news outlet with the word “Times” in its name to leave, saying “we have no tolerance for fake news.”
Kimmel even jokingly thanked the president for shifting the focus of the night.

“Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?” he said in the opening.

The evening’s most blunt protests against Trump came not from the A-list stars but from foreigners, a few of whom were not even in attendance and could communicate their sentiments only through statements.

Kimmel, as if predicting that this would be the case, said early that the Oscars are watched by 225 countries “that now hate us.”
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose “The Salesman” won best foreign film, his second win in the category, did not attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban to seven predominantly Muslim nations.

Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian astronaut, read a statement from Farhadi.

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” it read. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”

Gael Garcia Bernal, the Mexican actor, while presenting an award also declared: “As a migrant worker, as a Mexican, and as a human being, I am against any wall.”

But, of course, the big best picture mistake will be the thing that history remembers abou the 89th Academy Awards.
“Let’s remember this is just an awards show,” Kimmel said at the close. “I knew I would screw this show up, I really did. I promise I’ll never come back.”

The AP’s Jake Coyle contributed to this report.

]]> 0, 27 Feb 2017 08:31:57 +0000
Commentary: Rodriguez best spot for now is Triple A Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:51:43 +0000 FORT MYERS, Fla. — Don’t call it a rotation competition. Call it a set rotation with a clear fill-in.

If everything breaks the Red Sox’ way, Eduardo Rodriguez –the guy with the highest ceiling – is actually the one who should be in Triple A on Opening Day.

That’s best for the Sox, whose starting depth is weaker than Pablo Sandoval’s right-handed swing.

A trip to Pawtucket really can’t hurt Rodriguez, who didn’t impress until September last season.

Rodriguez will still be a few days shy of 24 on opening day. He still has a world of potential. But he should show he’s truly healthy after a small knee scare again this offseason, and simply prove he can be consistent before entering the rotation.

This is a mythological world the Sox live in right now, where Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz all appear on their way to good health.

Manager John Farrell said he’d be open to moving a starter into the bullpen if he actually winds up with six guys available for five spots.

“I think a couple of different ways we could go with that,” Farrell said. “That’s one possibility, not knowing who that one would be to go to the bullpen. I think, more importantly, we’ve got to get everybody back up to game speed until we start to maybe address or consider those options.”

The trouble is there’s no clear spot for a starter in the bullpen.

Rodriguez is the only one of the starters who can be optioned to the minors. But go beyond roster technicalities.

Pomeranz and Wright had great first halves in 2016 and were All-Stars.

Rodriguez, not so much, with an 8.59 ERA in six starts. He was sent to Pawtucket in late June after giving up a career-high 11 hits and matching a career high for runs allowed, nine, against Tampa Bay.

But Rodriguez was excellent in September last year, with a 3.27 ERA, a .189 average against and 39 strikeouts in 33 innings.

Health has to be the biggest reason. A right patella subluxation in spring training screwed up his delivery well into the season. He tried to pitch anyway.

Over the winter, Rodriguez merely tweaked the knee. The situations do seem different. But he should prove it.

“My knee, my mind, everything is clear,” Rodriguez said.

That’s wonderful. The Sox should hope it true. Barring a stunning spring performance, it’s on Rodriguez to show he’s ready to repeat September before the Sox add him to the rotation.

]]> 0 RodriguezSun, 26 Feb 2017 22:44:52 +0000
Major League roundup: Red Sox offense struggles in loss to Rays Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:50:00 +0000 PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Chris Archer made his spring training debut for the Tampa Bay Rays, pitching two scoreless innings in a 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

Archer, who went 9-19 with a 4.02 ERA in 33 starts last season, allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two.

Joe McCarthy homered, double and drove in three runs for the Rays.

Boston, which managed just one hit through four innings, scored three times in the seventh inning, including a two-run single by outfielder Cole Sturgeon.

Red Sox starter Hector Velazquez gave up one run in two innings.

YANKEES 7, BLUE JAYS (ss) 2: Starlin Castro hit a three-run homer for the Yankees and prospect Billy McKinney also connected, in Tampa, Florida.

New York right-hander Luis Severino pitched two hitless innings

Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer for Toronto.

PHILLIES 10, BLUE JAYS (ss) 3: Kendrys Morales homered and drove in two runs for Toronto, and Jose Bautista also had two hits, in Dunedin, Florida.

Morales signed a $33 million, three-year deal with the Blue Jays over the winter.


INDIANS: Jason Kipnis will have to wait a bit to make his 2017 spring debut in Arizona.

Kipnis was slated to act as the designated hitter Sunday against the Chicago Cubs but was scratched after being diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain and receiving a cortisone shot, per Indians Manager Terry Francona.

Kipnis will be shut down from throwing for four to five days.

RANGERS: Slugger Josh Hamilton went to Houston on Sunday, facing the possibility of another knee surgery in his bid to return to the majors.

Hamilton will be examined Monday by Dr. Walt Lowe, who performed reconstructive surgery on the former AL MVP’s left knee last June.

The Rangers acknowledge Hamilton might require arthroscopic knee surgery. If he does, Hamilton would likely be out four to six weeks and then need a minor league rehab assignment.

METS: When the former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow reports to camp Monday, he will give an introductory news conference and report to the Mets’ STEP camp, which is essentially an extended spring training for select minor league prospects.

But that doesn’t mean that the former NFL quarterback and sports-talk lightning rod won’t be getting his share of glare beneath the Florida sun.

In camp, it’s common for minor-leaguers to be borrowed by the big league team, and Mets Manager Terry Collins reiterated that he wants Tebow to be among those to receive the honor. Indeed, Tebow could appear in a Grapefruit League game for the Mets.

YANKEES: The head of the baseball players’ union says “that page has been turned” in the spat regarding New York Yankees President Randy Levine and what he said about reliever Dellin Betances’ agents.

Levine had called Betances a victim of  “over-the-top demands based on very little sense of reality” by his representatives at an arbitration hearing on Feb 18.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 22:46:08 +0000
Traffic snarled at Waterville’s lone car wash Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:31:21 +0000 WATERVILLE — Despite earlier police warnings not to block traffic, a line of cars waited on Kennedy Memorial Drive on Wednesday to turn into the J&S Oil car wash, and another, smaller line had formed in the median coming the opposite way.

The car wash at J&S Oil is the only in-bay automatic car wash in this service-center city that has a population of about 16,000. The next closest automatic car wash is about 6 miles away in the neighboring town of Fairfield next to the Purple Cow House of Pancakes off Route 201.

Frustration over backups and long waits at the city’s only automatic car wash has highlighted a simmering problem that involves city planning, economic development and police enforcement along one of the main traffic arteries in Waterville.

Waterville Police have long been receiving complaints about the traffic issue, according to Chief Joseph Massey, who asked residents to stay out of the way of traffic and wait in the parking lot instead. Police are going to start patrolling the area and warning people to move their cars if they’re idling in line on Kennedy Memorial Drive, which is also Route 137. The next step will be issuing tickets for obstructing a public way, Massey said.

Karen Snyder of Waterville said she was waiting 10 minutes and watched more than 10 cars turn from the line waiting in the road into the business before her, while she waited in the median on Wednesday. People were cutting her off and she was fed up.

“It stinks,” she said. “They need to open another one. … I hope they do something.”

Snyder normally wouldn’t wait in the line, but she had a friend in the car with her and she had a coupon for a free wash, she said. She prefers the automatic wash to self-serve, where she said she feels like she has to race the clock. She ends up spending more money using the self-serve car wash just to get enough time to do it right, she said.

In 2015, Jerald Hurdle had proposed to build an automatic, 24-hour car wash on Kennedy Memorial Drive, but the proposal failed because the property was not in an allowable zone and residents who closely abutted the property worried about the disturbance it would create.

City Planner Ann Beverage said the trick would be to find a lot that is large enough and in a commercial B, C or D zone, though the city is flexible with rezoning, she said, as long as it is appropriate.

Despite the attempt to add a second automatic car wash in the city and the long line pouring out onto the road, the company that owns J&S Oil and its car wash says Waterville isn’t big enough to sustain two such businesses.

“We don’t do enough business,” said Richard Smith, vice president of Nouria Energy, a Massachusetts-based company that owns multiple convenience stores, car washes and pet washes across New England, including the J&S Oil and Xpress Stop in Waterville. “I wish we had lines like that all the time, but we don’t.”

According to Smith, the reason for the backups is simple. The car wash was recently bought and changed to a Golden Nozzle Car Wash, a company that owns a chain of 29 car washes spread throughout New England. To celebrate that, the company sent out about 75,000 coupons for free car washes to surrounding businesses within 6 miles last week.

Because of the bad weather, people now have limited time to use their coupons, he said, which expire Tuesday.

“You won’t see that much more moving forward,” Smith said.

While he acknowledged that lines do form a couple of times in the winter because of bouts of bad weather, he said it’s been a whole week of lines because of the coupon.

Asked whether the monthly special, which gives customers unlimited car washes for $19.99, was also adding to the volume, he said the program actually helped make the process more efficient, because there’s no need to run credit cards, and the cars can just go right through.

“We have had long lines of traffic backing up as far back as last year,” Massey said. “It’s a great car wash. Everyone likes it. This didn’t just come about because of those coupons and a free car wash, but it certainly exasperated it.”

Massey thinks the problem worsened after recent heavy snow in the region, which lured drivers to the car wash, coupled with the $19.99 monthly promotion.

The only other car wash in Waterville is at Kennebec Express Lube, but it’s temporarily closed for renovations.

Chet Ficker, the owner since 2012, said they’re rebuilding the floors of the four self-serve car wash bays after the heating failed over a year ago. They plan to reopen the car wash in mid-March and hope the extra bays will help relieve the demand.

People seem to prefer automatic car washes to self-serve ones. Nouria Energy’s Smith said they get more customers through their automatic car wash versus their self-serve washes. Ficker said he probably gets about half the cars an automatic wash does.

“I think the trend for people right now is they like the automatic, they like the simplicity,” Ficker said. “But it costs the user twice as much.”

Ficker’s car wash cost $3 for more than four minutes, and it will probably be similar with the new system, he said. Still, Ficker said he’d love to put an in-bay automatic in his business — but the starting cost would be $250,000.Twitter: madelinestamour

]]> 0 are parked in a line on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville to enter the J&S Oil car wash on Wednesday, a day after police warned motorists not to idle along the road while waiting in line for the car wash.Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:46:16 +0000 Red Sox may be off and running without Ortiz Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:29:12 +0000 FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox know they cannot replace David Ortiz’s bat. But it shouldn’t prove hard to upgrade on his legs.

Ortiz was very good at a very many things but, bless his heart, base running sure wasn’t one of them. Expanding its aggressiveness on the basepaths is one of the few ways Boston can actually capitalize on Ortiz’s absence.

“We may be a little different team this year,” first-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Obviously Papi is not in the lineup. We’re not going to be relying on his power, and we may have to do some things a little bit differently. Getting an extra base and putting ourselves in scoring position is probably of paramount importance to us.”

Last season, the Red Sox were loath to run with Ortiz at the plate, Manager John Farrell said. That made sense.

Even a successful stolen base with Ortiz batting would tighten up the hole on the right side of the infield and make an opponent more apt to pitch around the slugger.

They won’t have such reservations this season.

“We would like to run as much as possible,” Farrell said. “It’s part of every spring training, part of the mindset we create.”

For the most part, the Red Sox have been an efficient base-stealing team under Farrell, highlighted by their historic 87 percent success rate back (123 steals in 142 attemps) in 2013.

Both the bulk number of steals and the efficiency have come down since then, largely because Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino aren’t hitting one-two anymore.

Last year, Mookie Betts (26) and Xander Bogaerts (13) were the only Red Sox in double figures with steals. The team stole 83 bases overall (sixth-best in the league) at a success rate of about 78 percent. While they want to run more in 2017, they still want to run judiciously; think at least a 75 percent success rate, if not 80.

So how does a team balance an emphasis on aggressiveness without sacrificing that efficiency? Amaro pointed to right now as the time to learn your limits.

“The beauty of spring training for us is to be over-aggressive,” Amaro said.

“For us, it’s about taking more chances now so we can find out what these guys can do – going first to third, second to home, first to home. Trying to get that extra 90 feet is a culture we’re trying to set. The guys’ mindsets are there; it’s just a matter of us consistently doing it.

“Just like anything else, it’s a confidence thing. Those guys are kind of like cat burglars. You have to try to have the mentality that it’s OK to get thrown out. The more they work on it, they more confident they’ll be.”

“It always comes down to understanding the situation, the scoreboard being a primary one where you’re not going to be risking further outs,” Farrell said.

But if the opportunity presents, we’re always going to look to be that aggressive.”

For the third spring in a row, Bogaerts has talked about running more himself – something that should be easier to enact if he hits further down in the order, as expected.

Already a terrific baserunner, he admits he’s not quite sure how to translate that into being a better base-stealer. This spring, he’s spent his time working on his jumps from first base.

“For me, it’s just confidence and getting good jumps. I don’t practice stealing, but I practice jumps,” he said. “That first movement to second base is key.”

Without Ortiz anchoring the middle of the order, the Red Sox have a number of candidates to run. There’s Betts and Bogaerts, of course, but also Andrew Benintendi and even Jackie Bradley Jr.

Benintendi stole 41 bases in two seasons at Arkansas, and he swiped 17 last year at his three levels combined.

“If you’ve got well-above average speed with good instincts inside of given players, you’re going to be a little bit more liberal to give them the green light,” said Farrell.

Although baserunning measures are as nebulous as they are numerous, the Red Sox graded out in the top half of the league last season on the bases. Four years ago, their elite baserunning was a key component to the league’s best offense and an eventual championship. They believe it can play that role again.

]]> 0 Betts led the Red Sox with 26 stolen bases in 2016 and is expected to run more this season. Boston's lineup lost a lot of production with the retirement of David Ortiz and the team will try to replace some of it by stealing more bases.Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:07:37 +0000
Thomas, Celtics knock off Pistons Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:16:47 +0000 AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Jaylen Brown was ready to shoot when the ball came to him in the right corner.

Even he couldn’t have anticipated what was to come.

Brown sank a 3-pointer while being fouled with 37.6 seconds remaining, and the Boston Celtics ended up with five points on that possession, taking the lead for good in a 104-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.

“I was just waiting in the corner,” Brown said. “I told myself, if he passes, I’m going to shoot it.”

The Celtics were down 96-95 when Brown connected while being fouled by Marcus Morris. Brown missed the ensuing free throw, but Detroit couldn’t come up with the rebound, and Tobias Harris was called for a loose-ball foul. Marcus Smart added two free throws to put Boston up 100-96.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons, but he went 1 of 11 on free throws and was taken out for some key possessions toward the end to prevent Boston from fouling him.

Detroit went 16 of 35 from the line, while the Celtics were 24 of 30.

“Obviously, the free throws were a major issue, but that’s not one guy. If you take away Andre, the other guys shot 62.5 percent, and that’s not good enough,” Detroit Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We had five more free throws than they did, even giving three fouls at the end, and we made eight fewer. It’s tough to win a game like that.”

The Pistons rallied from a 15-point third-quarter deficit and led 96-95 when Reggie Jackson missed a 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining. That gave the Celtics a chance to take the lead, and Brown capitalized.

“We can’t put everything on Isaiah, especially when teams know where we’re trying to go,” Smart said.

“They’re going to try everything they can to get the ball out of his hands and make other guys make plays and that’s what we did tonight.”

CONFIDENT: Brown is shooting 33 percent from 3-point range in his rookie season and says he’s worked hard on his outside shot. Celtics coach Brad Stevens was happy Brown took the open shot at the end.

“He put it up because it’s the right thing to do at that time,” Stevens said.

“Doesn’t matter when the moment is, doesn’t matter if it’s the first quarter, fourth quarter. If you’re open on a catch-and-shoot shot and somebody made a play for you, you have to shoot it.”

PULLED: Drummond left the game with 4:12 remaining in the fourth, immediately after missing two free throws.

He didn’t go back in until the final half-minute, and the Pistons struggled on the boards without him.

“Yes, we need to get defensive rebounds, but we don’t have 20 timeouts to keep taking him out of the game, and stops won’t help us if they foul him and we don’t score,” Van Gundy said.

TIP-INS: For the Celtics, Thomas has scored at least 20 points in 43 straight games. … Boston led 54-50 at halftime and began the third quarter with a 13-2 run. … The Celtics were without G Avery Bradley, sidelined by a sore right Achilles tendon.

Detroit recalled forward Henry Ellenson and guards Darrun Hilliard and Michael Gbinije from the team’s Grand Rapids affiliate in the D-League. They did not play.

HONORED: The Pistons retired Richard Hamilton’s No. 32 during a halftime ceremony attended by several other players from Detroit’s 2004 championship team.

]]> 0 guard Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points and Boston beat Detroit 104-98 on Sunday in Auburn Hills, Michigan.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 23:08:08 +0000
Trump hears clashing viewpoints on health care overhaul Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:57:14 +0000 WASHINGTON — A meeting Friday between President Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his former rival in the Republican primaries, had no set agenda. But Kasich came armed with one anyway: his hope to blunt drastic changes to the nation’s health-care system envisioned by some conservatives in Washington.

Over the next 45 minutes, according to Kasich and others briefed on the session, the governor made his pitch while the president eagerly called in several top aides and then got Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the phone. At one point, senior adviser Jared Kushner reminded his father-in-law that House Republicans are sketching out a different approach to providing access to coverage. “Well, I like this better,” Trump replied, according to a Kasich adviser.

The freewheeling session, which concluded with the president instructing Price and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to meet with Kasich the next day, underscores the unorthodox way the White House is proceeding as Republicans work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else. The day after Kasich delivered his impromptu tutorial, Trump spent lunch discussing the same topic with two other Republican governors with a very different vision: Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida.

Scott said Sunday that he used the lunch to press for principles he has pushed publicly, such as financial compensation for states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA and the importance of providing competition and cutting required benefits to allow people to “buy insurance that fits them.”

While leaving most of the detail work to lawmakers, top White House aides are divided on how dramatic an overhaul effort the party should pursue. And the biggest wild card remains the president himself, who has devoted only a modest amount of time to the grinding task of mastering health care policy but has repeatedly suggested that his sweeping new plan is nearly complete.

This conundrum will be on full display Monday, when Trump meets at the White House with some of the nation’s largest health insurers. The session, which will include top executives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna and Humana, is not expected to produce a major policy announcement. But it will provide an opportunity for one more important constituency to lobby the nation’s leader on an issue he has said is at the top of his agenda.

Democrats and their allies are already mobilizing supporters to hammer lawmakers about the possible impact of rolling back the ACA, holding more than 100 rallies across the country Saturday. And a new analysis for the National Governors Association that modeled the effect of imposing a cap on Medicaid spending – a key component of House Republicans’ strategy – provided Democrats with fresh ammunition because of its finding that the number of insured Americans could fall significantly. Trump, for his part, continues to express confidence about his administration’s ostensible plan.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:12:23 +0000
Skowhegan building back in the family business Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:47:13 +0000 SKOWHEGAN — Jesse LaCasse is hitting baseballs with wooden bats he makes himself on site.

He’s batting in space where the dance floor and banquet room used to be upstairs in his grandmother’s restaurant at 4 Madison Ave. and where his great grandfather once sold clothing in a department store years before that. Now the space is being used for LaCasse’s new business, River Run Batting Cage.

He’s also pitching the Skowhegan location for the proposed Run of River whitewater park that is planned through the Kennebec River gorge just beyond his south-side windows.

LaCasse, 36, a Madison Area High School baseball star who went on to play ball for St. Joseph’s College in Standish and tried out for the major leagues, opened the batting cage and workout center Feb. 18. It’s a spot where youths and adults can get in their licks while the snow is still on the ground, and all summer long if they like.

The baseball center is in the former Village Candlelight Restaurant at 4 Madison Ave. His grandmother, Florence Sterns, ran the place until it closed in 1993. A number of other businesses – a golf shop, a bar and grill, and a teen chem-free club – have occupied the space over recent years.

LaCasse’s great grandfather, Frederick Sterns, opened Sterns Department Store in the same building in 1929.

Now it’s his turn at bat.

“I find it very interesting because I have so many people that come in and say, ‘Oh, I remember, this is where the women’s clothing store was,’ ” LaCasse said. “This whole upstairs where the batting cage is now was four sections of clothing, but that was before my time. It’s still known by people as the Village Candlelight that was run by my grandmother, and there’s a generation that’s still calling it the Sterns Department Store.”

LaCasse said he has turned the brick building at the corner of Water Street into a three-level facility for bat-making, sales and baseball training.

He’s keeping it in the family for the love of the game.

“There’s no doubt that my great-grandfather, grandfather and grandmother would be proud to see what has come of the place,” he said, noting that his grandfather, Dick Sterns, a Skowhegan attorney, was his Little League coach and a huge baseball fan.


LaCasse makes baseball bats out of raw hardwood on a lathe in the basement of the building. He sells the bats and other items in a shop and office at the front of the building opposite Bloomfield’s Cafe. His brother, Mark, and his wife, Kelly, run The Maine Meal, makers of frozen gourmet meals, all locally sourced and cooked on site in a commercial kitchen in another part of the building.

The top floor is now the batting cage, featuring Iron Mike, a pitching machine that uses real baseballs in a 70-foot, screened-in batting cage. A machine for softball will be added later this month.

There are hitting stations with two tees for practice and soft toss. Equipment includes an exercise bike, medicine balls with a rebounder for strength and conditioning, stretch bands for pitchers and hitters, and drills for agility and skill.

Iron Mike was a big hit with some of the kids who recently tried the batting cage.

Gage Morgan, 14, of Norridgewock, a member of the Skowhegan Area Middle School baseball team, said Iron Mike, unlike other pitching machines, re-creates live pitching.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said before taking some swings in the cage. “Iron Mike is more realistic than most pitching machines. The release point is more like a real pitcher and it doesn’t pitch right down the same part of the strike zone every time. It pitches around it too. It’s more realistic.”

Gage said having a baseball training facility close to home helps get players ready for spring training. It might even give them an edge come mid-April, he said.

“Everyone else will be just starting and I’m going to be right in my groove,” he said.

Volunteer dad and baseball coach Scott Mitchell, principal at Madison Elementary School, was on hand with some boys for practice on a recent afternoon. He LaCasse’s facility is just what the area needs.

“It’s incredible. We live in Maine. These kids love baseball. They’d play year-round if they could,” Mitchell said. “Here’s an opportunity where they can get swings in, get a lot of pre-season work in right here. We’re excited about this.”

Mitchell was with his son, George Scott Mitchell, 11, who plays Cal Ripken Baseball. The youngster said he was getting ready to take his first swings of the season.

“It’s cool. Iron Mike’s pretty cool,” he said. “It will help me with my timing, maybe make me stronger and to hit the ball farther.”

Ben Morgan, 12, and Quintcey McCray, 11, both Cal Ripken players, said they are impressed with the place and are big fans of the pitching machine.

“It’s really cool because of Iron Mike,” Quintcey said. “It doesn’t just throw strikes. It’s realistic. You have to read the pitch.”


LaCasse said he was sold on Iron Mike the first time he saw it and made it the centerpiece of his baseball training facility.

“It’s the popular pitching machine. The kids love it. I love it myself,” he said with the cracks of the bats echoing in the background. “It’s an arm style, a realistic type of pitch. It throws fastballs, and because it throws real baseballs, it’s a realistic at bat. You have to lay off some because they’re balls, but 80 percent are strikes coming off the machine.”

Iron Mike can pitch baseballs up to 85 mph and as slow as 35 mph. The machine is operated on a timer for left-handed and right-handed hitters. There are 10 pitches per minute, and unlike a coin-operated machine, the batter doesn’t have to swing at every pitch, LaCasse said.

There also is a station with a 9½-inch mound for pitcher training and live at-bats, and a mat for live softball pitching, with 10 dozen new softballs on hand. The softball machine will pitch up to 70 mph and throws fastballs, risers and drop-balls by adjusting the machine, LaCasse said.

The cost for the batting cage is $40 per hour for up to five batters and $25 for a half-hour for up to three batters. There also are monthly memberships for individuals and families.

]]> 0 LaCasse makes baseball bats in the basement of what is now a baseball center at 4 Madison Ave. in Skowhegan. Other floors of the building are used for sales and baseball training, complete with batting cages and pitching machines. Below, Gage Morgan, 14, of Skowhegan, takes his cuts in the batting cage.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:15:17 +0000
Democratic chairman pledges to unite party Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:43:28 +0000 ATLANTA — Newly elected Democratic national chairman Tom Perez pledged Sunday to unite a fractured party, rebuild at all levels from “school board to the Senate” and reach out to chunks of rural America left feeling forgotten in the 2016 election.

Speaking in television interviews, Perez indicated that an important first step was joining with vanquished rival Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who agreed at Perez’s invitation to serve as the Democratic National Committee’s deputy chairman. Perez said the two would work hard to put out an affirmative party message while opposing President Trump’s policies, adding that he and Ellison were already getting a “good kick” that Trump was stirred to tweet that the DNC election was “rigged.”

“We lead with our values and we lead with our actions,” Perez said, describing a party focus that will emphasize protecting Social Security, Medicare and “growing good jobs in this economy.”

“You know, our unity as a party is our greatest strength. And it’s his worst nightmare,” he said. “And, frankly, what we need to be looking at is whether this election was rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy Vladimir Putin.”

The former labor secretary in the Obama administration acknowledged that swaths of the U.S. had felt neglected, saying he had heard from rural America that “Democrats haven’t been there for us recently.”

“That’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Perez said, stressing grass-roots efforts in all 50 states. He pointed to Democrats’ success Saturday in one of their strongholds, Delaware, where they found themselves in an unexpectedly competitive race. Stephanie Hansen won a special election for a state Senate seat after vigorous party campaigning that helped preserve Democrats’ control of the chamber.

As DNC chair, Perez must now rebuild a party that in the last decade has lost about 1,000 elected posts from the White House to Congress to the 50 statehouses, a power deficit Democrats have not seen nationally in 90 years.

On Saturday, the DNC elected Perez as its chair in a race that took two rounds of voting. They picked Perez, who was backed by former President Obama, over Ellison, backed by liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

]]> 0 PEREZSun, 26 Feb 2017 20:43:28 +0000
Trump’s pick for Navy secretary withdraws Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:20:41 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, said Sunday he was withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.

Bilden’s withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump’s nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month. Just last week, the Pentagon sought to tamp down reports that Bilden might pull out.

Bilden was an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:20:41 +0000
Theater board asks Gardiner for $150,000 for renovation Mon, 27 Feb 2017 01:18:16 +0000 GARDINER — As part of a plan to raise funds to pay for the renovation of Johnson Hall’s large theater, members of its board have asked Gardiner city officials to make a leadership gift to support the project.

The request for $150,000 is intended to be a challenge gift that will draw other donations to support the $4.5 million project that supporters say will give Gardiner an economic and cultural boost.

While a number of city residents and business owners support the project and the request for city funds, several spoke out against the move at a public hearing during last Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Andrew MacLean, a former Gardiner mayor and president of the Johnson Hall board of directors, said the renovation of the historic opera house will be an economic development game-changer for the city. He was joined by Logan Johnston, co-chairman of the theater’s capital campaign committee, and Carolyn Kimberlin, vice president of the Johnson Hall board.

During the last 20 years, Johnson Hall has invested nearly $460,000 into the building, MacLean said, including renovating the ground floor and building the 117-seat Studio Theater, maintaining the building and preparing for the renovation.

The theater has dramatically increased its programming, including the number of shows it puts on in the Studio Theater, the Johnson and Riverfront parks, in the Gardiner schools and five weeks of summer camp, he said.

To date, the capital campaign that now is in its quiet phase has tallied cash, pledges and a commitment to buy historic tax credits that total more than $2 million from companies, board members, individuals and families.

“The renovation of the upper floors of Johnson Hall represents a quantum leap for Johnson Hall and what it offers to the city,” he said. Currently it draws 3,000 people every year. When the upper theater is completed, MacLean said, Johnson Hall is expected to draw 15,000 people annually.

“That quantum leap will absolutely be a game-changer for the city’s economic development,” he said. “It’s for these reasons we respectfully ask the City Council to designate $150,000 of current fund balance as an investment in the $4.49 million historic renovation of the opera house theater as a leadership gift to be paid upon signing the construction agreement.”

Maureen Blanchard, who questioned and objected to city contributions to non-profits including Johnson Hall when she was a city councilor, argued against the gift.

“What we have now is a non-profit that has requested $150,000 in addition to the $25,000 a year the city pays it annually to stay afloat, and we cannot lower taxes,” Blanchard said.

Matthew Marshall expressed his reservations on the request. “I support the arts, and I hope in my heart of hearts that (Johnson Hall) is very successful, but I don’t think taxpayers should be on the hook for $150,000,” he said. If the property tax the theater would generate while it’s owned by a for-profit entity would repay the amount of the gift, he would support the move.

The second read on the request will take place Wednesday, when the City Council next meets. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers at 6 Church St.

]]> 0 Hall in Gardiner is currently in the process of raising money for a major renovation of its third-floor theater.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:18:14 +0000
Vatican acts to protect images of Pope Francis Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:52:49 +0000 VATICAN CITY — God’s love may be free, but the Vatican says it has a copyright on the pope.

Unnerved by the proliferation of papal-themed T-shirts, snow globes and tea towels around the world, the Vatican warned it intends to “protect” the image of Pope Francis and “stop situations of illegality that may be discovered.” It also wants to protect the crossed keys emblem of the Holy See.

“The secretary of state will undertake systematic surveillance aimed at monitoring the way in which the image of the Holy Father and the emblems of the Holy See are used, intervening with opportune measures when necessary,” the Vatican said in a statement.

To back up this declaration, the Vatican hired the global law firm Baker McKenzie to protect its intellectual property rights, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported. The threat of enforcement marks a sea change for a church that for some 2,000 years has seen popes venerated on all manner of flags, banners and medals. But the popularity of Francis and the ease with which his image can be copied in the internet age has spawned a flood of papal trinkets, causing the Holy See to worry that they are losing control of his image.

“The pope’s image rights are no different from those of any other famous celebrity and so it’s not surprising that the Vatican is giving notice that it will protect its (intellectual property) rights as necessary,” said Nick Kounoupias, the founder of an intellectual property consultancy in London. “What will be interesting to see, however, is how vigorously these rights are pursued, given who the IP owner is.”

Francis’ many travels have taken him to countries like the Philippines and Sri Lanka, where factories can quickly churn out pope hats, T-shirts and towels. Vatican officials have grown fearful the faithful will think that the church is making money off the merchandise, experts say. Worse still, they see the conditions in which some of the items are made and worry about being associated with labor abuses.

]]> 0 Francis attends an audience granted to members of the Capodarco social workers association Saturday.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:01:18 +0000
Shrinking ranks challenge central Maine veterans groups Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:46:25 +0000 Leaders of central Maine veterans groups say their members are aging and younger soldiers coming out of the military aren’t joining the ranks to take their place or help shoulder the work of helping people, including other veterans, in their communities.

If local outposts of organizations such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS and Marine Corps League don’t bring in new blood, several local leaders said, posts could close and the services they offer to the community and to veterans could end.

“We need to have some new blood, new ideas. We need somebody to step in and start taking over the activities us old guys are doing,” said Ralph Sargent, 81, of Augusta, a retired Marine who served in the siege of Khe Sanh and is senior vice commandant of Marine Corps League Kennebec Valley Detachment 599 and junior vice commandant of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9 in Gardiner. “Get out of your recliner, get up, and support the community that supported you while you were on active duty.”

Group members said some younger veterans who saw action in places such as Iraq or Afghanistan have told them they don’t join veterans groups after their military service because they doubt they would relate well to the older former soldiers there, partly because they don’t have much in common.

But Eric Hunt, 66, of Fairfield, who served in the Navy and is a past commander of Winslow VFW Post 8835 and an associate member of Marine Corps League Kennebec Valley Detachment 599, said a post full of older veterans is perhaps the most likely place that a young person dealing with the horrors of war can find someone who understands what they’ve been through.

“The younger people need to know there are people in these organizations that have experienced what they’ve experienced, and they’re not alone,” Hunt said. “There are others in these organizations who are in the same boat they are, and they’re more than willing to do what they can to help these younger members.”

Hunt noted that group members also go to VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus, where they help returning veterans with any problems.

Beyond camaraderie, local posts and groups provide services to veterans such as advocacy to preserve their benefits in Washington, D.C., and, Sargent said, access to people who are willing to help fellow veterans solve just about any problem they may have.

Hunt said his VFW post is down to about 400 members from the 600 it had in the late 1970s. But, he said, it’s the same 20 to 23 members who regularly go to post meetings, and that core group seems to be involved in nearly all the other post activities.

Members of other groups said the same thing: A small core group of their members are the ones involved in nearly every group activity and meeting, while other members are rarely seen at group events.

Bill Schultz, 76, retired Navy and commandant of Marine Corps League Kennebec Valley Detachment 599, said if the core members of these veterans groups stop coming and doing all the things they do, their local posts would likely close.

James Laflin, 70, of Readfield – retired Army, an AMVETS National Executive Committee representative, commander of AMVETS Post 2001 in Augusta and a past commander of the department of Maine AMVETS – said that organization has lost a couple of posts in recent years and has seen its state membership of about 1,500 decrease by 200 to 300 members.

Statewide, the number of legion members in Maine, according to a membership report on the state legion’s website, decreased by nearly 1,951 members from 2016 to 2017, and in that same period, only 315 new members joined in the state.

Augusta American Legion Post 2 lost 11 members and gained seven from 2016 to 2017, according to the state membership report. Gardiner’s Legion Post 4 lost 19 members and gained six. Waterville’s Legion Post 5 lost 60 members and gained 14.

Nationally, the American Legion had about 2.4 million members in 2010. Currently it has about 2.2 million in some 13,000 posts throughout the country and overseas, said John Raughter, a national legion spokesman.

Roger Paradis, 70, of Pittston, retired from the Navy and adjutant, historian and Americanism coordinator for American Legion Smith-Wiley Post 4 in Gardiner, said members of the Kennebec Valley Honor Guard, at their own cost, attend nearly 100 burials of veterans a year, and the group is increasingly finding it hard to keep up with the demand.

Schultz said one thing might help: As soldiers are leaving the military, they could be presented information about the various veterans groups and what they provide. “A lot of people don’t know anything about us,” he said.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

Twitter: kedwardskj

]]> 0 Laflin, an AMVETS National Executive Committee representative, a commander of AMVETS Post 2001 in Augusta and a past commander of the department of Maine AMVETS, discusses reasons why fewer younger veterans are engaged in local veterans organizations. He says without younger veterans involved, there will be fewer voices fighting for veterans issues such as health care.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:05:31 +0000
Mardi Gras crash driver failed drunken-driving test Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:34:56 +0000 NEW ORLEANS — Police on Sunday identified the man who allegedly plowed into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans while he was intoxicated.

New Orleans police issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. He’s being charged with first-degree negligent vehicular injuring, hit-and-run driving causing serious injury and reckless operation of a vehicle.

The accident happened Saturday during one of the busiest nights of Mardi Gras, when thousands of people throng the streets of Mid-City to watch the elaborate floats and clamor to catch beads and trinkets tossed from riders.

Police said 28 people were hurt in the accident that sent three people to the hospital with moderate to serious injuries. There were no fatalities.

Police said a breath test determined that Rizzuto’s alcohol level was three times the legal limit after he was arrested.

“We suspect that that subject was highly intoxicated,” Police Chief Michael Harrison said Saturday evening.

Harrison was asked by the media if terrorism was suspected. While he didn’t say “No,” he did say it looks like a case of DWI.

Twenty-one people were hospitalized after the crash, with five victims taken to the trauma center in guarded condition. However, their conditions did not seem to be life-threatening, said Dr. Jeff Elder, city emergency services director. Seven others declined to be hospitalized, he said.

The victims ranged in age from as young as 3 or 4 to adults in their 30s and 40s, Elder said.

Among the injured was one New Orleans police officer. Harrison said the officer, who was on duty, was undergoing tests to determine the extent of her injuries. She was in “good spirits,” he said.

As police and city officials assessed the accident scene, people streamed home while plastic bags that used to hold trinkets and discarded beads littered the ground.

Saturday night’s parade was put on by the Krewe of Endymion, which is known for its long, elaborate floats and the big party it hosts at the Superdome after the parade.

One woman at the scene told The New Orleans Advocate that a silver truck whisked closely by her as she was walking through the intersection.

“I felt a rush it was so fast,” Carrie Kinsella said.

Kourtney McKinnis, 20, told the Advocate that the driver of the truck seemed almost unaware of what he had just done.

“He was just kind of out of it,” she said.

]]> 0 stand next to a pickup truck that slammed into a crowd, causing multiple injuries, before coming to a stop against a dump truck during a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:20:01 +0000
Gov. Paul LePage to appear Monday morning on ‘Fox and Friends’ Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:15:39 +0000 Fresh off an appearance as a guest panelist at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Republican Gov. Paul LePage says he will appear on the “Fox and Friends” news show Monday morning.

“I’ll be on Fox and Friends tomorrow at 7 a.m. to speak on Maine’s successful welfare reforms, a model for other states to follow,” LePage tweeted Sunday.

“Fox and Friends” is a daily morning news and talk program on the Fox News Channel. The program is considered to have conservative political leanings in its presentation.

LePage was invited to serve Friday on a panel at a CPAC event that discussed “Welfare Reform: Restoring Human Dignity and Self-sufficiency.”

LePage appeared on the same day that the conference featured President Trump as its guest speaker. The conference was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.

LePage said he has introduced and accomplished modest welfare reform since taking office in 2011, including a five-year cap on welfare benefits, requiring drug testing for welfare recipients convicted of drug-related crimes, and reducing benefits for non-citizens.

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:06:32 +0000
Navy SEAL’s father calls for investigation of Yemen raid Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:05:50 +0000 FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The father of a Navy SEAL killed during an anti-terrorism raid in Yemen is demanding an investigation into its planning and criticized the Trump administration for its timing.

Bill Owens told The Miami Herald in a story published Sunday that he refused to meet with President Trump when both came to Dover Air Force Base to receive the casket carrying his son, Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

“I want an investigation,” said Owens, a retired Fort Lauderdale police detective and veteran. “The government owes my son an investigation.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that she believes the president would support an investigation.

“I can’t imagine what this father is going through,” she said. “His son is a true American hero, and we should forever be in his son’s debt.”

The younger Owens, a 36-year-old married father of three, was the lone U.S. fatality in the Jan. 27 raid on a suspected al-Qaida compound. About 16 civilians and 14 militants died in the raid, which the Pentagon said was aimed at capturing information on potential al-Qaida attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

The elder Owens told the Herald that he refused to meet with the president because the family had requested a private ceremony.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president.”

Owens said he was also troubled by the attack Trump leveled at Khizr and Ghazala Kahn, an American Muslim family whose Army officer son died in Iraq in 2004. The couple had criticized him at the Democratic National Convention last summer. He also questioned why the president approved the raid a week after taking office.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens told the Herald. “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:05:50 +0000
Kim Jong Un’s half brother died a ‘very painful death,’ Malaysia official says Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:05:26 +0000 TOKYO — Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of the North Korean leader, died a “very painful death” within 20 minutes of having poison smeared on his face, Malaysian authorities said Sunday.

That suggests he was exposed to a large amount of VX, a nerve agent so lethal it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction, S. Subramaniam, Malaysia’s health minister, said Sunday.

“The absorption level was so rapid that within a few minutes, the guy had symptoms,” Subramaniam told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. “From the time of the onset, he died within 15 to 20 minutes.”

Kim Jong Nam, the estranged older brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was attacked Feb. 13 in the busy Kuala Lumpur airport terminal by two women who wiped a substance on his face and in his eyes. They then fled while their victim sought help, but he died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

VX is especially lethal when absorbed through the skin or mucous membranes.

Malaysia has implicated eight North Koreans in the attack, including one diplomat said to be hiding in the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and a scientist whom it now has in custody.

South Korea has bluntly blamed the assassination on Kim Jong Un, accusing him of trying to eliminate potential rivals to his power. The United States has decided not to issue visas for North Korean diplomats who were due to arrive in New York this week for talks with former American officials. The decision was made after Malaysia announced that VX was used in the attack.

VX is banned under the international Chemical Weapons Convention, but North Korea is not a signatory. The government in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, is thought to have the world’s third-largest stocks of chemical weapons, behind the United States and Russia, and is believed to have been pursuing VX, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative website.

VX is a nerve agent that stops muscles from being able to switch off, meaning that they work too hard, tire out and shut down. This stops the major organs, including the lungs, from being able to work, leading to death by muscle paralysis.

“The muscle goes into a state of permanent contraction,” Subramaniam said. The dose that the 45-year-old victim received was “so high” that his heart and lungs would have been affected quickly, he said.

After the autopsy results – and 11 days after the attack – teams in hazmat suits swept the airport terminal for traces of VX or other toxins but found none and declared the terminal safe.

The medical staff who helped Kim Jong Nam are also being monitored, but none has shown symptoms, Subramaniam said.

Questions are being raised about how the two women who carried out the attack, apparently without wearing gloves, managed to survive. Security camera footage shows them going to the bathroom immediately after the attack, presumably to wash their hands.

Siti Aishah, who is Indonesian and was reportedly the first to apply the oil-like substance to Kim Jong Nam, told police she vomited in a taxi after leaving the airport and continued to feel unwell. She is being tested.

Aishah has repeated to police that she was tricked into carrying out the attack, was told that it was a prank and was paid about $100 for taking part. But security footage shows the women acting with determination and immediately rushing off after the attack.

Malaysian authorities say no one from Kim Jong Nam’s family has come forward to claim his body. They have been asking for a DNA match to release the body, and there were reports last week that his 22-year-old son had arrived from Macau, but these turned out to be false.

North Korea has angrily denounced every part of the investigation, accusing the South Korean government of persuading Malaysia to “besmirch” Pyongyang’s reputation by laying the blame on it.

North Korea’s ambassador in Kuala Lumpur strongly objected to an autopsy being carried out at all, saying that the man – whom he did not identify – was carrying a diplomatic passport and was therefore not subject to Malaysian laws.

Malaysia has, however, insisted that it will follow all usual procedures for investigating a suspicious death.

]]> 0 hazardous materials crew scans the decontamination zone Sunday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia, where Kim Jong Un's half brother was attacked with a lethal poison. After the two-hour sweep, a police official said the terminal is "free from any form of contamination" and declared it a "safe zone."Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:05:26 +0000