Press Herald Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 On many issues, council should start listening to the people of Portland Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 On March 20, I attended the city council meeting for the vote on the bond to repair four of the city’s elementary schools: Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot and Reiche.

For hours, Portlanders spoke passionately about the shameful condition of our schools and their frustration at how city leaders had passed the buck all these years.

At the end of the night, sadly, three councilors still voted no, insisting that their alternative plan cutting out the two schools in the worst condition – Reiche and Longfellow – go on the ballot as well.

As this played out, I felt a disappointing sense of deja vu.

In 2013, I sat in that same room and listened to hours of public testimony against a plan by the city council to sell Congress Square Park so it could be developed into a one-story hotel conference room.

But people wanted Congress Square Park revived, not sold, and, like with the schools, we lined up into the wee hours, only to be dumbstruck that our impassioned and reasoned arguments fell on deaf ears.

After running the successful grass-roots ballot campaign to stop the sale and establish new protections for Portland’s parks, I then led Friends of Congress Square Park’s efforts to raise private funding to turn the park into the gem that it always should have been.

The community response has been tremendous. Portlanders clearly want engaging public open spaces.

Today, some councilors who voted to sell the park say they regret their votes.

But I wonder, why was it so hard for those councilors to listen in the first place? Why does the leadership on so many issues have to come from outside the council? And why do people so often have to make these decisions ourselves at the ballot box?

It’s not just schools and parks. Take housing for example. We all have witnessed Portland’s development boom over the past decade, and the corresponding rise in property values and rents.

All this new investment has created the opportunity to remake Portland into a livable, walkable city with good public transit, thriving public open spaces, and excellent schools.

But instead the council has simply let development happen without hearing the vision of the city we want.

Meanwhile, middle class Portlanders are squeezed by skyrocketing rents. The very people who made Portland an attractive place to live, work and visit – including artists, businesses, and working people – are being priced out of the city.

So last year the mayor created a special committee to tackle the housing issue and asked one of our most seasoned councilors to chair it. The result?

A pamphlet explaining renters’ slim legal rights and a meager 30-day increase in notice required for rent increases.

On so many issues it’s the same dynamic.

Banning pesticides. Promoting solar energy. Eliminating tax breaks for developers with no expectations. Selling city land below market value. Standing up for our immigrant neighbors. Addressing the opioid crisis.

Providing property tax relief for seniors on fixed incomes. On these and many other issues there has been a distinct lack of leadership and vision.

Portland is going through a time of rapid change. For those of us who have lived in the city for decades, that change can cause nostalgia – but it’s also created opportunities to improve life in the city.

I’m gratified that even city councilors who once voted to sell Congress Square Park can now see its value and potential.

And I’m glad that because of yet another massive organizing effort, the public will finally get to vote in November on a $64 million bond to fix our schools.

But it shouldn’t be so hard. As we go forward with the debate over fixing our schools, I urge the council to start listening to the people of Portland.

We’re ready for action, and we can no longer afford to dream small and delay.

]]> 0, ME - MARCH 20: A light display aimed at encouraging city councilors to approve a $64 million school bond is projected on City Hall Monday, March 20, 2017 in Portland, Maine. (Staff photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer)Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:47:03 +0000
Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling requests salary review, monthly vehicle allowance Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Is $71,100 a year a reasonable salary for Portland’s popularly elected mayor, who has no executive control over day-to-day operations of the city?

That’s the question Mayor Ethan Strimling has put to the City Council, which recently approved significant raises for its three employees: City Manager Jon Jennings, City Clerk Katherine Jones and Corporation Counsel Danielle West-Chuhta.

“We made adjustments to the three other positions,” Strimling said. “I think they should look at it. We want to make sure the salary is competitive and good people run.”

Strimling said he’d like to see the mayor’s compensation package include a $500 monthly vehicle allowance, like Jennings’. The mayor and councilors already are eligible for travel and mileage reimbursements.

The city is looking to increase the salaries of its non-elected, nonunion staff, following Strimling’s first year in office, which was marked with clashes between the mayor, councilors and manager as well as controversial decisions to hire an assistant and to build new office space for the mayor.

Strimling said he originally made the request last fall, when the council was considering raises for its three employees. He recently sought an update from several councilors.

City Councilor Justin Costa said in an April 21 email to members of the Nominations Committee, which oversees the performance and salaries of the council’s three employees, that “the mayor has requested an increase in his salary.” Strimling maintains he  asked only that his compensation be reviewed. Ultimately, the councilors decided to refer the matter to the Finance Committee, because the councilors don’t formally evaluate the mayor’s performance.

“I see it as a broad policy discussion,” Costa said in an interview Friday. “You never want to have the impression the mayor’s compensation is anything that could be affected by political views or policy disagreement or other stuff.”


City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones, who leads the Finance Committee, said the committee will probably take up the request Thursday, noting that it will be challenging for the city to find comparable salaries for Portland’s mayor, which is a hybrid system that empowers the mayor to help set city policy through the council, but does not give him any control over staff or operations.

“I think we should have that discussion for the budget,” Mavodones said. “I can’t imagine we would adjust his salary downward.”

The elected mayor’s position was created in 2010. The City Charter says the mayor must be paid a minimum of 1.5 times the median household income for Portland, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, but that does not preclude the mayor from earning more.

The charter calls on the council to adjust the salary prior to nomination papers becoming available for the mayor’s position, but that did not occur in 2015, while also allowing the council to adjust it during a mayor’s term.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, the median household income for Portland was $46,280, which would put the mayor’s salary at $69,420. The 2015 income information is the most recent available.

If that is the rubric used by the committee, then Strimling’s current salary of $71,100 already exceeds the minimum set forth in the charter.


When Michael Brennan was elected mayor in 2011, he was paid $64,400 a year. Throughout his four-year term, Brennan did not have dedicated staff support like Strimling, who convinced councilors to hire a special assistant to the mayor who was paid $47,387 last year.

Like councilors, the mayor has received the same Cost of Living Adjustment as other nonunion employees.

As a result, the mayor’s salary has increased by 10 percent since 2012.

Over that same period, the council’s stipend has increase from $5,899 in 2012 to $6,321 in 2016.

Strimling said he believes councilors should also receive a pay increase.

“I do think the councilors should be paid more,” he said. “There’s a lot of work they do and they should be compensated to meet the expectations of their constituents.”

Last year, the council approved a 12 percent, or $18,500, raise for Jennings, who now earns $166,500; a 17 percent, or $14,000, raise for Jones, who now earns $92,960; and an 11 percent, or $13,400, raise for West-Chuhta, who now earns $131,250.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

Twitter: randybillings

]]> 0, ME - MARCH 20: Mayor Ethan Strimling speaks Monday, March 20, 2017 during a City Council meeting in Portland, Maine. (Staff photo by Joel Page/Staff Photographer)Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:15:06 +0000
Wiscasset couple taking fireworks lawsuit against ‘Big Al’ to high court Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 WISCASSET — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court may be pulled into an ongoing legal battle between neighbors and the owner of a midcoast warehouse used for the storage of consumer fireworks.

The warehouse, owned by Allen Cohen – known locally as “Big Al” – is used to store consumer-grade Class C fireworks that Cohen sells at his retail store on Route 1. Tom and Katie Bryant, who live near the warehouse on JB’s Way, have taken him to court and lost, and say they are appealing next to Maine’s high court.

The Bryants allege that Cohen’s warehouse poses a risk to them and other residents in the area. The structure, which is just over 4,500 square feet and has two more storage containers adjacent to it, is located within 1,000 feet of multiple residences. It is also just 16 feet from the driveway the Bryants use to access their home.

The issue arose in 2013 when the Bryants found that Cohen was storing his fireworks in the warehouse. The couple bought their house in 2011, before fireworks were legal in Maine.

Normally, the warehouse would be required to be set back a certain distance from the driveway. However, the driveway is owned by Cohen, and is used by the Bryants via a right-of-way.

“How does it make any difference, for safety reasons, whether we own it or Big Al owns it? We’re still endangered either way,” said Tom Bryant.

The couple first filed a complaint with the Lincoln County Superior Court in 2014, and the dispute was the focus of more court battles in 2015 and 2016. They lost their last appeal on Sept. 28 and say the next stop is the Maine supreme court.

The Bryants said they have also obtained signatures from dozens of other nearby residents, who agree that they don’t like the presence of the fireworks storage in their neighborhood.

Despite the objections, Cohen said he is in 100 percent compliance with local, state, and federal requirements. He said the Bryants’ continued lawsuits are doing nothing but wasting money, considering the issue has been through the court system already.

“This is beating a dead horse, over and over and over again,” said Cohen. “It’s been through the planning board three times, it’s been through the court system twice.”

A letter from State Fire Marshal Inspection Supervisor Timothy Fuller, written in 2014, confirmed that Cohen was in compliance with state law. It also pointed out that in Maine, the storage of consumer-grade fireworks is unregulated.

The applicable Maine statute “does not require a separate permit to store consumer fireworks,” Fuller said in the letter. “I am not aware of any facts that lead me to believe that the building on JB’s Way is anything other than a cold storage facility.”

State Fire Marshal Inspection Supervisor Gregory Day confirmed that Cohen is still in compliance three years later.

“The statute does not require a separate permit to store consumer fireworks,” said Day. “He’s licensed by ATF to have his store and have his product, he’s in compliance of the Maine statute.” The ATF refers to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Day confirmed that Cohen had recently received an inspection for his retail operation, and is compliant and up to date with all requirements.

Special Agent Christopher Arone with the ATF’s Boston field division confirmed that as far as the ATF is concerned, Class C consumer fireworks are a non-issue.

“ATF doesn’t regulate consumer fireworks … or the storage of them,” Arone wrote in an email.

According to Day, the storage of consumer grade fireworks is left up to municipalities to regulate. Cohen’s warehouse is located in a “rural” zoning district, which does not restrict the storage of consumer fireworks.

That zoning designation is also used as proof that Cohen is in compliance with National Fire Protection Agency rules, which require consumer fireworks storage to be located “well away from residential areas.”

However, the Bryants contend that while the zoning may be rural, the language of the NFPA’s rules don’t go by zoning, they go by the term “area.” With several houses located within 1,000 feet of the warehouse, and over 50 residences within a half-mile, they contend it’s primarily a residential area.

“We just do not feel that there’s a zoning issue,” said Katie Bryant.

The only egress from their property is via their right-of-way. “It’s extremely hazardous location for a fire,” said Tom Bryant.

Chris Chase can be contacted at 386-5227 or at:

]]> 0 Cohen, known locally as "Big Al," uses a warehouse in Wiscasset to store consumer-grade Class C fireworks that he sells at his store on Route 1.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:39:02 +0000
The Humble Farmer: Some Maine summer art exhibitions are unforgettable Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Given their number, you might think that artists were blown in here by our brisk Maine coast air. You are partly right because there is something about a cool breeze that seems to attract them.

No matter where you go in Maine, you will find a superabundance of trees and lakes and mountains.

Artists do occasionally paint them. But if you’ve ever watched one at work up by Katahdin or Wytopitlock Lake in the summer time, you’ll remember that you were both standing inside a screened porch.

A pleasant alternative is bundling up in winter wear and doing a lighthouse or sunrise-at-lobster-boat-cove thing in a brisk offshore wind.

Artists were coming to St. George before my time. It might have been around 1920 that N. C. Wyeth first paid property taxes in this town, probably because Rockwell Kent had already snapped up the last piece of desirable real estate on Monhegan.

Since then, artists have waxed wealthy and multiplied here and for that reason I’ve had a chance to study more than a few of them up close and personal.

A calendar for your typical St. George artist looks something like this: With cold and dirty fingers that you can’t use to wipe your nose, in a manner only a few can master you apply colored goo on a portable surface in a tedious and time-consuming manner.

If you’re lucky, you have a small device in your pocket with attached earphones so you can listen to self-improvement tapes as you work. Although there are no black flies alongshore, you make a mental note to wear heavy socks inside your boots on the morrow.

You ignore the seagulls that creep up and eat your sandwiches.

When you have assembled two dozen œuvres, you rent a hall. I once asked an artist friend why she called them œuvres, and she said that, unless you are a Wyeth, “œuvres” command twice the price of a “painting.”

You put up posters in the post offices and Linda Bean’s stores, and mail a photo and write-up to the Free Press and the PPH.

You hang your pictures on the wall of a hall or gallery and get your spouse or a couple of friends to put out wine and cheese in strategic places.

The great day arrives and the doors open. Fifty or 60 art lovers crowd in and stand around in the middle of the floor, craning their necks, hoping to see somebody famous. They don’t leave until the wine and cheese are gone.

As a patron of the arts who can’t eat cheese and doesn’t drink wine, I have no alternative but to walk around and admire the pictures on the walls. Which gives locals the impression that I’m some kind of nut.

Although my wife, Marsha, and I might attend one of these art exhibitions right here in town every week in July and August, some are unforgettable.

While at Sandra Mason Dickson’s Martinsville Grange show last summer, a friend sidled up to me, stabbed his finger at a painting and said, “That guy shooing the horse. He’s my cousin’s husband – comes here summers. He posed for the picture because the horseshoe man didn’t have time.”

“The farrier,” I said, trying to look modest.

“My cousin’s husband is a world-class artist in his line. I was helping out in the charity booth at Union Fair, flipping hamburgers, but nobody could flip them right except my cousin’s husband so I got shunted off to do something else. He asked me what I did and I told him I’d taught high school math for 30 years.”

“He said, ‘Is that so? I taught in New York state for 25 years and got an award for being the top teacher in New York.’ I said that was very nice. Quite remarkable.”

“A year later we’re back in the same booth at Union Fair and he is flipping hamburgers when we’re joined by another fellow who came in to help out. My cousin’s husband asked him what he did and he said he’d been a Marine for 25 years. And my cousin’s husband said, ‘Is that so? I was a drill sergeant for 25 years at Parris Island.’ And the fellow said that was very nice. Quite remarkable.”

“The year after that my wife came home after a day of working in that booth at Union Fair. She’s big in charity work for the church and could hardly wait to ask me if I knew anything about my cousin’s husband. She said, ‘He visits here every summer and he’s really a remarkable man. Did you know he worked with Mother Teresa curing lepers and was recognized by the pope?'”

“I said I didn’t know it but I wasn’t surprised.”

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:

]]> 0, 28 Apr 2017 19:54:56 +0000
Garrison Keillor: The first 100 days of my presidency have been tremendous Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 My first 100 days as Numero Uno have been fantastically tremendous as we begin to make progress to clean up the mess that I inherited. Terrorism, crumbling infrastructure, public television (so boring), China, the war on coal, political correctness, people we have no idea who they are coming into this country, the whole deal. You’d never know this if you watch MSNBC or CNN, which – and we have proof of this – are owned by the man who owns The New York Times, Famous Ray’s Pizza, some check-cashing establishments, and that bunch of losers, the New York Knicks. Sad!

His name is Mr. Wong and he has had it in for me since I refused to sell him an apartment in my building because he cooks everything in fish oil and his very unpleasant journalists have ripped me since Day 1, which does not bother me in the slightest. They’re like an anthill in the Rose Garden. Stomp! Stomp! Bye-bye!

And he is very stupid. Very very stupid. His New York Times is written by robots run by a laptop computer in Toronto. We have photographs that will be released as soon as they are audited. These robots keep saying I’m unpopular, my White House is in chaos, I am guilty of conflict of interest, my intelligence briefings come in the form of flipbooks because I read at a fourth-grade level – FAKE NEWS! I read 1,000 words per minute, that’s why I flip the pages.

I love being POTUS. I love the security cordon around me. It means that nobody can walk up to me in the street and say, “Hey, Don, remember me? Studio 54?” Doesn’t happen. No sitting in a restaurant listening to some illegal foreign waiter reciting the specials in his unintelligible accent. I go where the food comes pronto, steak, well-done, served by an American born in America. And after dessert, no sitting around while people you hardly know reminisce about their childhood in Kansas or wherever. Who cares? I signal Secret Service with a finger in my right ear and I am Out Of There.

Wong lives in a very substandard 14th-floor penthouse on West 39th Street, not a desirable neighborhood, and the 14th floor is hardly a penthouse. More like a pigeon coop. Sirens day and night, helicopters flying tourists around. Now that I am president, no helicopter with their irritating whump-whump-whump can come within a half-mile of me unless it is a Marine helicopter and I am inside it. Wong uses Acme Car Service, I use the Secret Service. No comparison!

Wong owns two motels in West Palm Beach, the Wayfarer and the Beachcomber – you hear the toilet flush next door – no comparison to Mar-a-Lago. Every foreign leader who’s come to visit me there says it is “Number One” and “world class” – fresh fruit in every room, bottled water from Trump Springs, Egyptian sheets. Other places have sheets with an 800-thread count. Mine are 8,000. Only the best!

I don’t miss New York a bit. It’s a hellhole. People lying in doorways, sleeping on park benches, like Calcutta or something. You get stuck in traffic, bums knock on your window and people jaywalk in front of you.

Now this helicopter is at my service day and night with a young Marine in dress uniform by the steps, at attention, and gives me a tremendous salute. I’ve seen the salutes they gave Obama and they were nothing like the ones I get.

Tremendous respect. The military was hanging their heads before and now they’re holding their heads up, thanks to me.

I have tremendous respect for the military. Great people. I did not serve in the armed forces due to a painful foot injury that made it hard for me to stand at attention, but as a young man, I found that dating in Manhattan was like being in Vietnam. I went out with beautiful women, I was a soldier going over the hill, there was herpes around, crabs, syph, you name it.

If I were to start dating again, I have people who would subject those women to extreme vetting. No women from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen. No vegans. All bags will be searched.

Remove your shoes. Golfers, go to the front of the line. I am 70 but I feel like 17. Wake up every morning with a big grin on my face. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just bitter about the election. So sad. Nyaa nyaa on you. I gotta go.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:44:45 +0000
Letter to the editor: Maine bill promotes taking death into our own hands Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I am disheartened to feel the need to write a letter on this issue, but after your recent editorial, I am compelled to do so. I find the introduction of the Dying With Dignity bill, with its buy-in to the culture of death, a sad commentary on life in the 21st century.

To think, in lieu of promoting palliative care, which is generous in its support of those who are dealing with chronic illness, or hospice for those facing death, this bill promotes taking the end of life into our own hands.

I fear for this approach and the ramifications it will undoubtedly have on us as human beings, persons who unfailingly choose expediency over commitment to life’s difficult moments.

Sadly, we know full well that as medical costs soar and dollars become less available, ridding ourselves of those who drain our coffers of much-needed dollars will become all the more attractive. As someone who has dealt with the death of loved ones from neurological diseases, I know firsthand the anguish the person and family endures during this profound time of life. I also know the strength that ensues from engaging in life’s distasteful moments.

Let’s not become a state to which visitors come to kill themselves. Let’s honor life and our state’s oft-quoted phrase: Maine, the way life should be. Let’s keep it that way! The only killing in which we need to engage is of the Death With Dignity bill.

Catherine Gentile


]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:59:46 +0000
Letter to the editor: Right to end one’s own life may bring peace to some Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 I have been reading the letters regarding the debate about the right to end one’s life if in the throes of a terminal illness. Hospice has helped many individuals in this situation and brought comfort to their families. It is a very valuable program.

However, it may not be the best choice for every patient. For some individuals, the ability to control their death may be extremely important. In fact, some individuals after obtaining the medications do not use them.

If the law reserves this option for terminally ill patients, we are not shortening life by a long time. I do not feel that the usage in states with this law suggests that it is readily abused. Allowing individuals to have this choice may bring them peace.

Nancy D. Barber, retired M.D.


]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:58:49 +0000
Letter to the editor: Joey Brunelle deserves councilor-at-large post Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Joey Brunelle is a person of uncommon intellect and energy, who, as a private citizen, has shown great understanding of issues and commitment to causes that matter most to the people of Portland. As secretary of the Portland Democrats, Brunelle has proven that he is willing to take on the mundane and often tiresome endeavors of grass-roots party organizing and breath fresh life into them by delving into issues like housing and transportation.

But far from being a party regular, Brunelle has demonstrated a strong independent streak where he is not beholden to any group or individual. The Portland City Council needs his sharp mind but one that will vote his conscience when it comes to fighting for the people (including children and families) of Portland. That is why I am supporting for Joey Brunelle for councilor-at-large.

Zack Barowitz


]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:58:06 +0000
Letter to the editor: Elks’ segregated past not that long ago Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 The upcoming renovation of the Portland Elks Lodge brings to mind a small but notable episode in Maine’s racial history.

For decades, the Elks accepted only white members. That became a contentious local issue in 1971, when the Deering High School senior class considered holding its senior prom at the lodge on outer Congress Street.

Una Richardson was one of only three African-American students in Deering’s senior class that year. She had the courage to speak out against having the prom at the Elks Club, as did the Portland branch of the NAACP.

“I had a meeting in front of the whole student body … and pled with them that maybe they should change the location,” Richardson recalled, in an interview for the 1994 documentary film, “Anchor of the Soul” that I co-produced.

“The Elks Club was air-conditioned, and it was a fairly new building at the time,” Richardson said. She said that most of her classmates “weren’t concerned with racial issues involving it – and I pretty much was.”

The senior class went ahead with having its prom at the Elks Club. Richardson and some of her classmates joined NAACP members picketing outside the dance. More than 20 years later, she spoke reluctantly about the episode, perhaps because it was still painful.

When you drive on outer Congress Street past the Elks property, remember its segregated past, and the brave high school student who spoke out against racial injustice.

Shoshana Hoose


]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:57:01 +0000
Another View: Trump’s moves won’t jibe with Constitution Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Much to his chagrin, President Trump has discovered that there are three branches of government in the United States, each given power to check and balance one another’s actions.

This wasn’t accidental. The Founding Fathers created the executive, legislative and judicial branches to prevent a repeat of the “Do what we say … or else” orders that used to come down from England’s King George III.

Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and the others who helped build our nation had a name for that practice: tyranny.

Those who wrote the Constitution fashioned an intricate web of governmental rights and responsibilities to prevent it from happening in the new republic. Congress and the president had the power to act, but the courts had the power to review, using the Constitution as the touchstone.

That exact phenomenon has been in play lately when it comes to the Trump administration’s attempts to go after so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to let their local law enforcement agencies be commandeered by ICE, the federal agency that enforces immigration laws.

The modern equivalent of the “Do what we say … or else” is the administration’s threat to stop the flow of federal money into cities and states that have refused to cooperate with the administration’s efforts to deport as many illegal immigrants as possible.

So far, three executive immigration orders have been derailed by the courts since Trump took office.

A woman holds a sign at a rally outside of City Hall in San Francisco. The Trump administration is moving beyond rhetoric in its effort to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities. Associated Press file photo by Jeff Chiu

The latest was earlier this week, when a federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction against the federal government’s threat to withhold federal aid to local governments that won’t join the anti-immigrant campaign.

Judge William Orrick ruled that only Congress has the power to place conditions on federal spending. Government lawyers argued that the administration did not plan to withhold the billions that flow from Washington, only the millions designated as aid for local law enforcement.

Orrick said that argument was undercut by statements by Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who have said billions were at stake. The government saying one thing in court and another thing outside it was, the judge said, “a schizophrenic approach” bound to confuse local governments.

The feds have declared their intention is to “tighten the screws” on local government on the issue. That’s hard to do when you have so many screws loose. Questions raised by Orrick and others include:

• While the federal government has exclusive right to enact immigration laws, does it also have a right to force local police to enforce those laws? Several judges think not.

• Can it threaten to cut off funding of programs that have nothing to do with immigration or law enforcement? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise, most recently in 2012 when it stopped the Obama administration from withholding Medicaid funds to force states to comply with Obamacare.

• Is anyone listening to the arguments made by many local officials, that putting police in the role of ICE enforcers sabotages the efforts local law enforcement is making to connect with, and get the cooperation of, immigrant communities in fighting crime?

Clearly, Trump and Sessions are not. To hear them tell it, our cities are living hells because of illegal immigrants. So, they push on with this “Do what we say … or else” approach.

The only thing we can say is: It didn’t work out for King George. What makes them think it will work out today?

]]> 0 hold signs outside a courthouse where a federal judge heard arguments in the first lawsuit challenging President Trump's executive order to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities on April 14 in San Francisco. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick held a hearing on San Francisco's request for a court order blocking the Trump administration from cutting off funds to any of the nation's so-called sanctuary cities.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:50:21 +0000
Reflections: ‘Arrival’ shows that living each day to fullest is not alien concept Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 How would you live your life if you knew when it would end?

As I methodically detailed to Tommy an arduous program of intensive chemotherapy with an uncertain future, he blurted out, “If I knew I’d be dead of cancer at 45, I’d have killed myself as a teen.”

I was shocked at his comment and it haunted me for some time. We all know we will eventually die, but we do not know when or how. Knowing that, is life still worth living?

Earlier this year, I viewed the Oscar-winning science fiction movie “Arrival” that shed light on Tommy’s intriguing conundrum. In what appears to be a flashback at the beginning of the movie, linguist expert Louise Banks is shown caring for her daughter who dies of cancer during adolescence. The scene then shifts to the arrival of 12 extraterrestrial spacecrafts.

Laura is summoned to decipher their language and discover why the aliens have come to Earth. While deciphering the unusual circular symbols, Laura has vivid dreams of herself and the whole childhood of her daughter.

The audience then discovers that Laura does not have a daughter. While communicating with the aliens, Laura is told that the dreams are not flashbacks but flash-forwards.

After the seeming threat of the aliens is resolved and they depart, a fellow scientist, who had worked with Laura on the deciphering project, professes his love for her.

At that point Laura must decide whether to allow the relationship to develop even though she knows that the daughter she would bear from this relationship will die in her teens. She also knows her husband will leave her when she tells him she has known all along the future of their daughter.

In the flash-forwards in the movie, we see the suffering Laura undergoes with her daughter as her daughter fights for her life, but we also see many delicious moments of love and tenderness Laura enjoys as her daughter is born and develops into a lovely young woman.

Was Laura right in accepting a life that results in the untimely death of her daughter?

To put the engrossing images of this movie in perspective, I sought wisdom in one of the biblical books written by King Solomon 3,000 years ago. Solomon had much to say about life and meaning in the book of Ecclesiastes.

In the third chapter he penned, “(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-13).

By the end of the movie, Laura decides to live the life revealed in the flash-forwards. She knows there will be some very bad days but there will also be some very good days. Though she realizes she will never understand why and when many things happen, Laura grasps her new life.

We see early in the movie her new life is far richer than the lonely and narrow life Laura had before the events of the movie take place.

I wish the movie “Arrival” had been produced and released while Tommy was undergoing treatment. It would have offered a more vivid illustration of what his life was all about than the words I used to encourage him.

Though Tommy had a difficult course and lost his battle with leukemia within a year, he had enjoyed the blessings of a wonderful education and career, a loving and supportive wife, and three charming and intelligent daughters whom he was able to watch and participate in their lives as they grew into young adulthood.

If Tommy had taken his own life in his teens knowing his life would end in his 40s, he would have missed decades of joy, love and success.

It is best we do not know the times of our future distresses and inevitable death. Such knowledge would only cause daily anxiety and fear.

As Solomon continued in his book of wisdom, “I know that everything God does will endure forever: nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it” (Ecclesiastes 3: 14).

The future is in God’s hands. We cannot control it, but we can live each day the fullest, understanding there will be times of trial and loss.

Dr. Delvyn C. Case Jr. is a hematologist/oncologist, playwright and director, columnist and consultant to the department of spiritual care at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:00:19 +0000
Religion calendar Sat, 29 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Climb Aboard the Food Train. Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook is sponsoring the sixth annual food drive for the Westbrook Food Pantry, office@trinity Saturday-Friday.

Yard sale. North Parish Church, 895 Main St., Sanford. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

Buddhist reality check. Explore Buddha’s teachings on emptiness. $10, The Yoga Center, 449 Forest Ave., Portland, 10-11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Buddhism Unwrapped. Practical aspects of being a Buddhist. $10 suggested donation, Merrymeeting Arts Center, 9 Main St., Bowdoinham,, 10-11:15 a.m. Sunday.

Healing Service. St. Augustine Anglican Church, 656 Route 1, Scarborough, 5-6 p.m. Wednesday.

To submit an item for the Religion Calendar, go to and click on the calendar tab.

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Historic Organ Tour stops in Portland: Photos Sat, 29 Apr 2017 04:30:48 +0000

Organist Steven Ball of Atlantic City, New Jersey, stands in front of the Kotzschmar Organ on Friday at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. Ball was part the Historic Organ Tour, a group of about a dozen organists from around the country who visited eight U.S. and Canadian cities in 11 days, including Bangor and Portland. Portland was chosen as the finale because of its famed, two-of-a-kind organ. Staff photos by Ben McCanna

Organist Frederick Haas of Philadelphia plays “Theme from Kamennoi Ostrow” on the Kotzschmar Organ on Friday at the Merrill Auditorium while Portland municipal organist Ray Cornils pulls out the stops.

Organist Frederick Haas of Philadelphia plays “Theme from Kamennoi Ostrow” on the Kotzschmar Organ on Friday at the Merrill Auditorium, the final stop on the Historic Organ Tour.

]]> 0, 29 Apr 2017 00:31:46 +0000
Trump’s first 100 days featured plenty of action Sat, 29 Apr 2017 04:16:10 +0000 WASHINGTON — He won confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. He withdrew from a sweeping planned trade deal with 12 Pacific Rim countries. And he revived construction of the contentious Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

But he also failed to persuade his fellow Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He tried to halt travel to the United States by citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, but was stopped again and again by the courts. And he was forced to fire his national security adviser for lying to the vice president.

In his nearly 100 days in the White House, President Donald Trump has seen his share of ups and downs on a host of domestic and foreign policy issues, from illegal immigration to Syria, taxes to China and everything in between.

And whether you’re one of his supporters or part of the so-called resistance you can probably agree on this: The brash, Twitter-friendly reality-TV star turned commander in chief has managed to leave everyone wondering what he will do next.

“The one word that defines all conversations throughout the United States and many capitals of the world is ‘Trump,'” said Ken Duberstein, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff.


Trump has repeatedly mocked the 100-day benchmark, complaining he would be accused of failing no matter how much he accomplished. Yet he spent the final week before Saturday’s 100th day rolling out executive orders and policy proposals in a furious finish to the deadline.

“I’ve done a lot. I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview late last week. “The foundations have been set to do some great things.”

Trump promised to act fast – and he has – though he has done far less than he promised on the campaign trail when he outlined dozens of things he wanted to do in the first 100 days, many on day one. He even released a “Contract With the American Voter,” a 100-day action plan to “make America great again.” But after the election he streamlined his list, and many items remain undone as the president learns how long action takes in Washington.

William Galston, a former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who’s a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a center-left policy research center, gives Trump a “C-” based on what he accomplished with his executive orders, legislation and policy proposals. “They were substantially unprepared for challenges at home and abroad,” he said.

Still, Trump has engaged in a flurry of activity from the first day – though some people argue that some of the moves have been more cosmetic than substantive – signing 28 bills into law, issuing 24 executive orders and ordering at least 17 studies on everything from election fraud to the Iran nuclear deal.

By far, his biggest accomplishment was the selection and confirmation of 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch, who with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court could be ruling for decades on everything from the death penalty and searches-and-seizures to the scope of the president’s war powers. Trump is the first president since 1881 to get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed in the first 100 days.


Trump launched a military strike in Syria after President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons that killed dozens of civilians. He dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal on the Islamic State in Afghanistan. He secured the release of aid worker Aya Hijazi from an Egyptian prison. He has befriended China and angered allies Mexico and Australia. He’s stepped up deportations, seen a decrease in border crossings and tried to boost military spending.

And with little attention, the president has quietly implemented some of his most significant changes through dozens of federal agencies and departments.

He has chipped away at the privacy rights of ordinary Americans at the borders and at the computer screens. He has increased searches and seizures of electronic devices carried by travelers entering the country. He has repealed provisions that would have prevented broadband providers from selling data about the browsing habits of internet users. He has refused to protect foreigners visiting the United States from surveillance.

“I think he has changed government more than a lot of people know,” said Scott Jennings, political director for former President George W. Bush, who gives Trump an “A” grade in large part for “restoring American leadership on the world stage.” “A lot of very consequential things get virtually no attention.”

Many of Trump’s actions have fulfilled Republicans promises, now that the GOP controls the White House and both chambers of Congress, while others have merely undone the actions of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

Trump’s administration has delayed or outright repealed a multitude of Obama-era regulations that affect everything from workers’ exposure to cancer-causing substances to hunters’ right to kill bear cubs in national wildlife refuges.


It has relied on a combination of administrative actions and a rarely used federal law, the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers and a president to reverse regulations imposed recently by a previous president. Trump has used the law 13 times so far. It had been used only once before, by George W. Bush.

The president’s critics say the rollback of consumer and environmental protections, financial regulations, worker safety measures and other rules show the administration has thrown over the interests of ordinary Americans – and Trump voters – in its rush to make good on a wish list for big business.

“Just because legislation is not being passed doesn’t mean that this government isn’t harming consumers,” said Micah Hauptman, financial services counsel at Consumer Federation. “There are real consequences to what this administration is doing. … It’s hard to know what you’re missing when you haven’t tangibly felt the benefits, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t going to get the benefits.”

All the while, the president has endured endless scrutiny about infighting and dysfunction among his staff at the White House and an FBI inquiry into possible collusion between advisers to his election campaign and Russia. And he has been hampered by his lack of staff.

Trump entered the White House with the lowest approval rating of any president in modern history and not much has changed since then.

His supporters are largely satisfied with his performance, insisting he has kept his grandiose promises, though many haven’t been fulfilled, but he has not managed to win over new supporters.

“It’s an appropriate time to take stock of what this president has accomplished so far. Unfortunately, it’s not much,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “In the first 100 days, so many of the promises the president made to working families during the campaign have either been broken outright or remain unfulfilled.”

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters this week that Trump has had a successful first 100 days.

“He’s accomplished so many of his goals,” he said. “I know there are narratives out there that say otherwise. But we look at it and see a president working at breakneck speed, somebody who is going as fast as he can within the confines of the law running through that punch list of promises that he made during the campaign.”

]]> 0, 29 Apr 2017 00:37:20 +0000
Patriots add pass rusher and tackle Sat, 29 Apr 2017 03:33:19 +0000 FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots held on to coveted backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo through the first three rounds of the NFL draft, choosing instead to make a couple minor deals Friday night and pick up help on the offensive and defensive lines.

Spurning offers for Garoppolo, who won’t play in New England unless Tom Brady is injured or retires, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick waited out the first seven hours of the draft. Asked how close he came to trading Garoppolo – the Cleveland Browns were one suitor – Belichick declined to say.

“I’m not going to comment on anybody’s … ,” he said. “Everybody that’s on the team is here to compete, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

New England gave up its first-round pick to get receiver Brandin Cooks from New Orleans, and traded its second-round pick for Carolina pass-rusher Kony Ealy. The Patriots also gave up draft picks to land Colts tight end Dwayne Allen and Bills running back Mike Gillislee.

“We’ve been watching a lot of picks go by,” Belichick said. “The four players that we acquired already are also part of the draft.”

After waiting out the entire first day of the draft and another three-plus hours on Day 2, Belichick traded the No. 72 pick to Tennessee for a pick later in the third round (No. 83) and used it to select Youngstown State defensive end Derek Rivers. Belichick said he liked the fact that 6-foot-4, 248-pound edge rusher was well-coached in college, and also praised his performance in the all-star games. Rivers set a school record with 511/2 career sacks.

The Patriots then made a deal with Detroit to acquire the No. 85 pick and used it to select Antonio Garcia, a tackle from Troy. Garcia visited with the Patriots last week and Belichick was impressed.

“I think he’ll be competitive,” the coach said.

The Patriots have three picks remaining, in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds.

After being spurned by the Patriots in their bid to acquire Garoppolo, the Browns found a quarterback right down the road, drafting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, a native of Toledo, Ohio.

After ignoring their most pressing need in the first round and sidestepping other quarterbacks, including hometown hero Mitchell Trubisky, who was chosen second overall by Chicago, the Browns selected Kizer in the second round with the No. 52 overall pick. The 6-foot-4, 233-pounder struggled last season for the Fighting Irish, but the Browns are intrigued with his size, arm and upside.

“Obviously, he has the measureables,” said Coach Hue Jackson. “A big, physical quarterback who can make all the throws that anybody needs to make in the National Football League. He’s intelligent. So he has the characteristics that we’re looking for.”

Cincinnati raised some eyebrows with their second-round: Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who was uninvited to the scouting combine because he was videotaped punching a woman in the face, breaking bones.

Fans in the draft theater booed lustily when Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz announced the choice. Cincinnati has a history of bringing players with off-field problems to the roster.

“For some of our fans, probably (they’ll) pause for a second,” Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis said. “But this thing’s got to move forward, and he’s got to move on. He’s lived with this since the day it’s occurred.”

]]> 0, 28 Apr 2017 23:40:30 +0000
NHL playoffs: Blues win to tie series Sat, 29 Apr 2017 03:21:25 +0000 ST. LOUIS – Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal with 3:51 left Friday night to give the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 victory against the Nashville Predators in Game 2 to tie the Western Conference semifinal series.

Jori Lehtera also scored for the Blues, and Jake Allen stopped 22 shots – including 14 in the third period.

Ryan Ellis had a goal and an assist, and James Neal also scored for the Predators, who had their franchise-high five-game postseason winning streak snapped. Pekka Rinne finished with 17 saves.

Game 3 is Sunday at Nashville, Tennessee.

Tarasenko’s winner came on a lucky bounce. Jaden Schwartz led the rush and initially tried to pass to Carl Gunnarsson, but it was off the mark and bounced off Gunnarsson’s foot right to Tarasenko’s stick.

It was the first lead for St. Louis in 116:09 of the series.

Ellis put the Predators ahead 2-1 at 3:07 of the third period, taking advantage of a turnover by Vladimir Sobotka and firing a slap shot past Allen.

Lehtera tied it at 7:39. Colton Parayko’s shot came loose in front of the net and Patrik Berglund took a whack at it before Lehtera buried it for his first goal of the postseason.

Neal gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 7:49 of the first period. Ellis took a shot from the point that deflected off Colton Sissons and then Neal before deflecting over Allen and into the net.

Tarasenko made it 1-1 with a power-play goal with 19.4 seconds remaining in the opening period.


HURRICANES-BLACKHAWKS: Carolina acquired goalie Scott Darling, a former University of Maine player, from Chicago for a draft pick.

The Blackhawks will receive a third-round pick in this summer’s draft.

PENGUINS: Carl Hagelin will be a game-time decision to return to the lineup Saturday night for Game 2 against Washington.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Hagelin has progressed far enough in his recovery from a lower-body injury to be an option to play for the first time since March 10. Hagelin took part in a full-contact practice, opening the door for the winger’s return.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:28:01 +0000
Sports Digest: Sea Dogs beaten at Reading Sat, 29 Apr 2017 03:19:19 +0000 BASEBALL

Sea Dogs’ rally falls short as Phils gain 10-7 victory

Carlos Tocci tripled and singled twice, driving in two runs Friday night as the Reading Fightin Phils held on for a 10-7 victory against the visiting Portland Sea Dogs.

Tzu-Wei Lin hit a solo home run in the second inning and Aneury Tavarez followed with an RBI single to give Portland (9-7) a 4-2 lead.

Reading (10-7) tied it in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer by Scott Kingery. The Fightin Phils added two runs in the third and three in the fourth to take a 9-4 lead.

Portland trailed 10-5 going into the eighth but got two runs on a sacrifice fly by Danny Mars and an RBI single by Cole Sturgeon.


BASEBALL: The University of Southern Maine will officially open its softball stadium and dedicate its baseball field to a longtime coach this weekend.

On Saturday, USM will have a opening ceremony for its softball stadium at 12:15 p.m. that will include recognition of the team’s five seniors. USM will then play a doubleheader against Eastern Connecticut.

Following the games, an alumni slow-pitch softball game and barbecue will begin at 5 p.m.

On Sunday, USM will dedicate its baseball field to Ed Flaherty, in his 32nd year as coach. Flaherty has won over 960 career games and led USM to NCAA Division III national championships in 1991 and 1997. USM has won eight regional championships. That 1997 national championship team will also be honored.

The dedication will begin at 12:15 p.m. and will include remarks by Bob Prince, a member of the 1991 championship team and now the coach at UMass-Dartmouth.

USM will play Western New England at 1 p.m.


PORSCHE GRAND PRIX: Maria Sharapova won again at Stuttgart, Germany, to move into the semifinals after beating Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 6-3, 6-4.

Sharapova, returning from a 15-month doping ban, next faces the fourth-seeded Simona Halep, who progressed against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 6-1.

BARCELONA OPEN: Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray advanced together again, reaching the semifinals in the same manner they won all week: Nadal cruised and Murray labored.


PENN RELAYS: Emily Durgin of Standish and the University of Connecticut won the 10,000 meters by nearly 40 seconds Thursday night and lowered her personal best by more than 30 seconds with her time of 33:49.30 in Philadelpha.

In Friday events, Isaiah Harris of Lewiston anchored Penn State to a second-place finish in the sprint medley relay, and Jake Koffman of Orono High was fourth in the boys’ discus.

Penn State posted a time of 3:17.40 in the sprint medley relay, which was won by G.C. Foster of Jamaica in 3:16.15.

Koffman, a Stanford University signee, had a best throw of 191 feet, 3 inches. Roje Stona of Jamaica won with a distance of 212-9.

RUSSIAN BANNED: Russian middle-distance runner Yekaterina Sharmina was banned until 2022 after a second doping sanction in six months.


PREMIER LEAGUE: Tottenham Hotspur, second behind Chelsea in the standings, will play its home games next season at Wembley Stadium while its new stadium is completed.

Spurs called White Hart Lane home for 118 years but will play its last game there May 14 against Manchester United.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:27:03 +0000
North Korea could face ‘painful’ measures Sat, 29 Apr 2017 03:15:20 +0000 UNITED NATIONS — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Friday for new economic sanctions on North Korea and other “painful” measures over its nuclear weapons program, as the Trump administration warned that it would take military action if diplomacy failed.

“Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences,” Tillerson said during an unusual high-level session of the U.N. Security Council called to review what the Trump administration calls its most dire national security concern. “The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it.”

Tillerson’s push at a special session of the Security Council came as the Trump administration said it is willing to bargain directly with North Korea over ending its nuclear weapons program, but under strict conditions that make talks unlikely anytime soon.

Ahead of the diplomatic effort at the United Nations, President Trump said direct conflict is possible. “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters in an interview this week. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.”

Hours after the U.N. meeting, North Korea fired another missile early Saturday local time, but it exploded within seconds of being launched, American and South Korean defense officials said. “The missile did not leave North Korean territory,” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. Dave Benham said in a statement. The launch underscored North Korea’s determination to show its defiance of international pressure.

Trump took to Twitter to reiterate his expectation that Chinese President Xi Jinping will use his leverage to make North Korea stop its weapons activities.

“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” Trump tweeted.

In the most-detailed explanation to date of the Trump administration’s emerging policy for dealing with North Korea, Tillerson told the Security Council on Friday that U.S. urgency is driven by the current nuclear threat to allies South Korea and Japan as well as the likelihood that North Korea will soon be able to strike the United States.

“All options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by a willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action if necessary,” Tillerson said.

“We much prefer a negotiated solution to this problem,” he added. “But we are committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression.”

The effect of both Trump’s and Tillerson’s remarks is to present a willingness to negotiate with North Korea that surprised and pleased diplomats the United States needs for any new joint effort at the United Nations or elsewhere. At the same time, the administration reiterated that it would act alone if necessary.

At issue is North Korea’s simultaneous effort to perfect a nuclear warhead that could be delivered far from its shores and to develop missiles with a range long enough to be a threat to the United States. Analysts think North Korea, if undeterred, could have that capability within a few years – likely during Trump’s first term in office. North Korea already possesses missiles able to threaten U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, as well as other Asian neighbors.


The top U.S. diplomat said new economic penalties should come on top of scrupulous enforcement of existing sanctions, and he was bluntly critical of nations that look the other way as North Korea tries to evade the heavy yoke of sanctions the Security Council has already applied.

He asked for a halt to imports from North Korea, especially shipments of coal, and an end to a guest-worker program that provides cheap labor for other countries and earns hard currency for Pyongyang. Tillerson also asked other countries to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with the communist state, alleging that the regime of Kim Jong Un abuses diplomatic privileges to support illicit missile and nuclear programs.

In blunt terms, Tillerson said North Korea is unlikely to give up its weapons or change its bellicose behavior under current sanctions and diplomatic condemnations. He said new economic penalties are necessary, as well as more vigorous enforcement of existing sanctions that he said North Korea has found ways to evade.

“I urge this council to act before North Korea does,” Tillerson said. “We must work together to adopt a new approach and impose increased diplomatic and economic pressure on the North Korean regime.”

In a clear warning to North Korean ally China, Tillerson said nations that help North Korea evade sanctions “discredit this body.”

Tillerson noted that China accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s foreign trade, giving it unique economic leverage.

He said the United States and China have had productive discussions about North Korea, and the new U.S. willingness to negotiate with North Korea is partly in deference to China’s long insistence that the only way to lessen tension is through direct talks.

“The United States also would much prefer countries and people in question own up to their lapses and correct their behavior themselves, but we will not hesitate to sanction third-country entities and individuals” that help North Korea go around sanctions, Tillerson said.

Although the council did not vote on new sanctions or other measures Friday, the Trump administration hoped for a show of force, with the full council, including China, Russia and the United States, uniting to air concerns about North Korea’s behavior.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the council that diplomacy is not hopeless.

“The state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula is not caused by any single party, nor is it reasonable to ask any party to take sole responsibility,” Wang said via an interpreter.

“We call upon all parties, especially those directly concerned – DPRK and the U.S. – to demonstrate sincerity for dialogue and restart dialogue,” Wang said, using the abbreviation for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who joined Tillerson and foreign ministers from countries that sit on the decision-making council, condemned what he called North Korea’s repeated violations of the body’s resolutions over nuclear and missile testing and development.

“I am alarmed by the risk of a military escalation in the region, including by miscalculation or misunderstanding,” Guterres said.

The U.N. Security Council session Friday comes at a particularly tense time in relations between North Korea and the United States, with the Trump administration sending warships to the region in a show of force against Kim’s regime.

This week, North Korea conducted large-scale artillery drills, showing off conventional weaponry that can easily reach South Korea’s capital, Seoul, the center of a metropolitan region of about 25 million people.

A North Korean propaganda outlet released a video clip Thursday showing a simulated attack on the White House and declaring that the ability to destroy the United States “is in our sights.”

“North Korea must understand that respect will never follow recklessness,” Tillerson said Friday. “North Korea must take concrete steps to reduce the threat that its illegal weapons programs pose to the United States and our allies before we can consider talks.”

]]> 0 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens to the debate during a ministerial-level Security Council meeting on North Korea at the United Nations headquarters Friday in New York.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:49:42 +0000
Friday’s major league roundup: Yankees stun Orioles with huge comeback Sat, 29 Apr 2017 03:13:17 +0000 NEW YORK — Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning and the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 on Friday night.

In a game of home run derby, Starlin Castro tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. In the 10th, Holliday hit the eighth home run of the evening – five by the Yankees – with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1).

Down 9-1 in the sixth, the Yankees pulled off their biggest comeback since overcoming a 9-0 gap to beat Boston 15-9 in 2012.

RAYS 7, BLUE JAYS 4: Logan Morrison hit a two-run homer, Evan Longoria and Corey Dickerson added solo shots and Tampa Bay connected three times in the eighth inning at Toronto.

Derek Norris added a solo homer in the ninth. He had two hits and two RBI.

Kevin Pillar homered and reached base five times for the Blue Jays, who lost their third straight. Toronto’s 6-17 start is the worst in franchise history.

WHITE SOX 7, TIGERS 3: Geovany Soto broke open a tie game with a two-run single in the eighth inning, helping Chicago earn a win at Detroit.

Anthony Swarzak (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the White Sox, who won their fifth straight.

Tigers reliever Alex Wilson (0-1) allowed two hits and two unearned runs in the eighth. Detroit third baseman Nick Castellanos committed two errors in the inning, and three in the game, leading to Soto’s go-ahead hit.

MARINERS 3, INDIANS 1: Ariel Miranda allowed two hits and pitched into the sixth inning, Robinson Cano and Ben Gamel homered and Seattle won at Cleveland.

Miranda (2-2) didn’t give up a hit until Jose Ramirez’s one-out homer in the fourth. The left-hander struck out seven in 51/3 innings

Cano hit a two-run homer in the fourth. Gamel added a solo shot in the sixth, a towering drive to right.

Three Seattle pitchers combined to strike out 14 against the defending AL champions. Edwin Diaz recorded the final four outs, three on strikeouts, for his fourth save. He struck out Edwin Encarnacion with a runner on to end the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth.


METS 7, NATIONALS 5: Josh Edgin relieved closer Jeurys Familia with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and got Bryce Harper to hit into a game-ending double play, and visiting New York stopped a six-game losing streak.

Travis d’Arnaud then homered twice and had five RBIs for the Mets. D’Arnaud hit a two-run homer in the second and a three-run drive in the fourth off Max Scherzer (3-2), who lasted six innings.

Jacob deGrom (1-1) struck out 12 in his third consecutive double-digit strikeout game and the 13th of his career.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice for the Nationals, who had won 10 of 11. Zimmerman tied Andre Dawson for second on the franchise’s all-time list with 225 home runs.

PIRATES 12, MARLINS 2: Francisco Cervelli drove in three runs and Pittsburgh scored eight times in the second inning, at Miami

Jordy Mercer homered and had two RBI, Josh Harrison had three hits and knocked in two, and Andrew McCutchen also drove in a pair of runs for the Pirates, who snapped a six-game losing streak to the Marlins.

]]> 0 Castro of the Yankees celebrates after hitting a two-run homer in the ninth inning Friday to force extra innings against the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees won in 10 innings, 14-11.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:16:48 +0000
NBA playoffs: Wizards earn spot against Celtics Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:52:29 +0000 ATLANTA — John Wall scored 42 points, Bradley Beal added 31 and the Washington Wizards withstood a furious Atlanta comeback to close out the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday night, winning the opening-round playoff series in six games.

The Wizards advanced to face top-seeded Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Hawks fell behind by 22 early in the third quarter before making a game of it down the stretch. But they never led and Wall stymied the rally with huge plays at both ends of the court.

Wall’s block of Dennis Schroder’s layup kept the Hawks from closing within a point, and Wall hit every big shot in the closing minutes. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, ensuring that Washington picked up the first road victory by either team in the series.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 31 points, and Schroder had 26.

After losing three close games in Washington, the Hawks seemed to run out of steam in the return home, ending a disappointing season.

Washington pushed out to a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and closed the half on a 19-4 run to take a 65-46 lead at the break. The Hawks turned the ball over six times during that five-minute stretch.

Atlanta finished with 22 turnovers, including seven by Kent Bazemore.

But it was Wall, still seething over a second-round loss to the Hawks two years ago in which he was sidelined with a broken hand, taking control in the final period.

The turning point came with Atlanta on the cusp of coming all the way back.

With his team trailing 93-90, Schroder came up with a steal and took off for what looked like an uncontested layup. But Wall swooped in from behind and batted the ball off the backboard.

At the other end, Wall somehow got a stumbling drive to fall. Jose Calderon of Atlanta missed a 3-pointer, and Wall knocked down a pullup jumper to stretch the lead back to 97-90.

The Hawks called a timeout, and Wall stared down the courtside fans before heading to the bench.

After Wall’s huge block, Washington outscored Atlanta 22-9 to win going away.


PACERS: Larry Bird is stepping down as president of basketball operations – a stunningly abrupt move even for an NBA legend known for making swift decisions.

General Manager Kevin Pritchard will be elevated to take his place.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:58:09 +0000
Sox score 5 in first inning, hold off Cubs, 5-4 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:51:02 +0000 BOSTON — Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn’t have time for a slow start Friday night – not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday.

“Being able to scratch a few across, put up a crooked number early is always nice,” Mitch Moreland said. “It kind of helps everybody settle in.”

Every Boston starter had at least one hit, and Moreland, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez also drove in a run each.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (2-1) got the win with six innings of two-run ball, surrendering early solo homers to Kris Bryant and Albert Almora Jr. before settling in. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Boston has won its last nine interleague games at Fenway Park.

Arrieta (3-1) logged his shortest start since Aug. 28, 2014, lasting only 41/3 innings and giving up 10 hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

“The home run I gave up, just a ball elevated,” Arrieta said. “Made a few pitches in spots that I shouldn’t have. And they strung some hits together.”

Arrieta also had a tough beginning against Cincinnati in his last start, and this is the first time in his career that he has allowed four first-inning earned runs in consecutive outings. Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start in Boston on June 30, 2014.

Ben Zobrist also drove in a run for Chicago, which is playing its third regular-season series at Fenway and first since 2014.

After pulling within a run in the seventh, Chicago threatened again in the eighth with runners on first and second and one out. Fernando Abad came on and got both pinch-hitter Matt Szczur and Kyle Schwarber to strike out swinging.

Craig Kimbrel struck out Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to open the ninth before Zobrist doubled. Addison Russell then struck out to end the game, and Kimbrel locked up his eighth save.

“Fernando’s two strikeouts were key, and then Kimbrel has been Craig. He’s been overpowering. Great stuff,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

NOTES: Chicago pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey and Koji Uehara were given a video tribute after the top of the second inning for their return to Fenway Park. All three were members of Boston’s World Series championship team in 2013. Anthony Rizzo, once a top prospect in Boston’s farm system, was also back at Fenway along with Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager who helped end the team’s 86-year championship drought in 2004. “I’m definitely still a Bostonian. I’m just lucky to have a great second home in Chicago. I consider them both home,” said Epstein, who was raised in nearby Brookline. “How lucky is that?” … OF/INF Brock Holt (vertigo) began a five-game rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night, getting four at-bats as the designated hitter. … LHP David Price (left elbow strain) is still on track to face live hitters Saturday for the first time since spring training.

]]> 0's Andrew Benintendi gestures as he crosses the plate with a solo home run in the first inning Friday night against the Cubs at Fenway Park.Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:07:35 +0000
Celtics win fourth straight against Bulls, head to second round Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:45:20 +0000 CHICAGO — The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday.

“Once we started to get the game at hand and in control, we all just kept repeating to stay focused, to keep it going, to keep pushing,” Al Horford said. “We didn’t want to give them any life. We were as focused and we were enjoying the moment.”

Bradley finished one point shy of a playoff career high he set in Game 5. He nailed three 3-pointers and the Celtics hit 16 of 39 from long range.

Gerald Green scored 16 in his fourth straight start and Isaiah Thomas had 12 before heading home to Washington state for his sister Chyna’s funeral on Saturday. Her death in a car accident the day before the playoff opener dealt a blow to the Celtics. But Boston rallied around its star player and regrouped when it looked like the series might slip from reach.

“Bigger things than basketball happen and that takes precedent,” Coach Brad Stevens said. “I was really proud of our guys, how they treated each other and how they stuck together. Nobody pointed fingers and we’re a great support network for one another, especially Isaiah. I think they appreciated being counted out.”

Jimmy Butler led Chicago with 23 points. But the Bulls never really found their rhythm over the final four games with point guard Rajon Rondo sidelined by a broken right thumb.

Dwyane Wade shot just 1 of 10 in a two-point effort that could be his final appearance for the Bulls. He has a $23.8 million option on the two-year deal he signed last summer to leave Miami and come home to Chicago.

“The big thing about it is we got off to poor starts in pretty much every game after the first two,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “But we found a way to bounce back and make it close.”

Not this time.

The Celtics set the tone by hitting 3s on their first three possessions on the way to a 13-point halftime lead. They buried Chicago in the third, outscoring the Bulls 34-18. Things got so lopsided that Thomas gathered his teammates near the baseline late in the quarter and screamed: “That’s a wrap for these (expletives)!”

“We came out and moved the ball around, we got open looks and they were going down for us,” Bradley said. “It felt good to be playing Celtic basketball again. We were all smiling and having fun and that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

NOTES: The Celtics are 5-0 in playoff series against the Bulls. … Boston made 76 3-pointers in the series, Chicago hit 42.

]]> 0's Gerald Green dunks as Chicago's Nikola Mirotic, left, and Jimmy Butler watch during the first half of Friday night's NBA playoff game at Chicago.Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:30:47 +0000
Friday’s girls’ roundup: Thornton prevails in softball Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:42:34 +0000 SACO — Kaitlin Verreault stuck out eight and also had three hits Friday to lead Thornton Academy to a 9-2 victory against Marshwood in an SMAA softball game.

Olivia Howe and Verreault each had two doubles for Thornton (3-0), which took a 3-0 lead in the second inning.

Marshwood (1-2) cut the lead to 3-2 in the third before Thornton added six runs over the next three innings.

Verrault allowed four hits and walked one.

FRYEBURG ACADEMY 3, CAPE ELIZABETH 1: Nicole Bennett doubled home Makayla Cooper to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning as the Raiders (3-0) pulled away from the Capers (1-2) at Cape Elizabeth.

Bennett scored later in the inning on a double by Paige O’Connell to make it 2-0. The Raiders added a run in the fifth, and Maddie Culkin singled home Elena Keller in the bottom of the inning for Cape Elizabeth.

Bennett allowed one run on five hits, striking out four. Jessica Robicheaw of Cape gave up two earned runs on three hits, striking out five.

POLAND 8, LAKE REGION 7: Amanda Gagne hit an RBI single during a three-run sixth inning as the Knights (4-0) defeated the Lakers (0-3) at Naples.

Morgan Brousseau had three hits, including a double, and Alyssa Gagne added two hits for Poland. Kaylyn Lorrain had two hits for Lake Region, including an RBI double, and Haley Fernald doubled and scored on a throwing error in the seventh.

OCEANSIDE 10, MARANACOOK 1: Abby Veilleux went 4 for 4 in a 17-hit offense and drove in a run for the Mariners (3-1) against the Black Bears (1-2) at Readfield.

Hannah Moholland hit a first-inning two-run homer and added an RBI double, and Kalli Grover had three hits for Oceanside.

Kiara Degan had a pair of hits for Maranacook.

Chloe Jones of the Mariners allowed one earned run on four hits, striking out 11 and walking one.

GORHAM 11, WESTBROOK 1: The Rams (2-1) totaled 12 hits and powered past the Blue Blazes (0-3) at Westbrook.

Shayla Harris hit a two-run single with two outs in the fourth inning as Gorham opened a 4-0 lead. Kiana Tracey had two hits for Gorham, including an RBI double in the fourth.

Angelica Johns led Westbrook with two hits, driving in the run with a double in the fourth.

Grace McGouldrick of Gorham allowed three hits, two walks and one run with seven strikeouts.

BIDDEFORD 8, SOUTH PORTLAND 5: Aibhlin O’Connor had four hits, including a home run and a double, and the Tigers (1-2) finished with 17 hits to get by the Red Riots (0-3) at South Portland.

O’Connor doubled home two runs in a three-run third inning to give Biddeford a 4-0 lead. Kaitlyn Stewart and Alexis Matteau each added two hits for the Tigers. Courtney Luce had a double and drove in two runs, and Stephanie and Ashlee Aceto each had two hits for South Portland.

SCARBOROUGH 16, CHEVERUS/NORTH YARMOUTH ACADEMY 0: The Red Storm (2-0) scored seven runs in the second inning, and Chloe Griffin and Lilly Volk combined to hold the Stags (0-3) hitless in a five-inning game at Portland.

Griffin had a triple and double, and Lindsey Kelly added a triple and Hunter Greenleaf had a double.

MASSABESIC 18, SANFORD 1: Lacey Bean had four hits and three RBI, and Julia Gregoire added three hits with three RBI as the Mustangs (3-0) handled the Spartans (0-3) at Sanford.

Grace Tutt had three hits and four runs, and Cayleigh Morris finished with three hits for the Mustangs.

Molly Boissonneault had two hits for Sanford.

WINDHAM 17, BONNY EAGLE 1: Danielle Tardiff had three hits and drove in four runs, and Olivia Mora added three hits as the Eagles (3-0) downed the Scots (0-2) in five innings at Standish.

Megan Joy, Chloe Wilcox and Alex Morang each drove in two runs for Windham, which scored nine runs in the fourth to take a 17-1 lead.

PORTLAND 12, MAINE GIRLS’ ACADEMY/FALMOUTH 8: The Bulldogs (4-0) opened an 8-0 lead, highlighted by a two-run single by Taylor Crosby, and held off the visiting Lions (2-1) at Portland.

Jessica Brown had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and Grace Stacey and Sydney Gilbert added two hits each for Portland.

Liberty Ladd had three singles for MGA/Falmouth.


YORK 9, MARSHWOOD 7: Alexandra Lawlor had three goals as the Wildcats (2-0) edged the Hawks (1-2) at South Berwick.

Cassandra Reinertson and Alana Lauersen had a pair of goals, and Bridget Monteith also scored for York.

Reagan Nichols paced Marshwood with four goals, Luci Albers had two and Hannah Costin added one.

Skyleer Amsden had 11 saves for the Hawks.

YARMOUTH 12, WAYNFLETE 4: Ella Antolini and Eliza Lunt each had five goals as the Clippers (3-0) handled the Flyers (3-1) at Yarmouth.

Katie Waeldner added a goal and four assists for Yarmouth, and Margaret Elder had a goal and three assists.

Kenha Stockford paced Waynflete with three goals. Elspeth Olney added a goal and an assist.

]]> 0 three years playing doubles for a Class A state championship team, senior Amanda Watson finally got her turn at singles Friday. She beat Emelie Jarquin of Cape Elizabeth 6-1, 6-4 at No. 3 singles in the clinching match of a 4-1 girls' tennis victory. Falmouth has won 142 straight matches – including nine state titles – since the spring of 2008. Because of rainouts, Friday was the opener for both teams.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:54:14 +0000
Friday’s boys’ roundup: Greely wins in baseball Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:34:00 +0000 YARMOUTH — A.J. Eisenhart hit a two-run double during a three-run seventh inning Friday as Greely pulled away to a 7-2 victory against Yarmouth in a Western Maine Conference baseball game.

Ryan Twitchell doubled for the Rangers (4-0). Jackson Caruso had two hits to lead Yarmouth (1-1).

OLD ORCHARD BEACH 5, SACOPEE VALLEY 1: Jacob Maloney hit a two-run double as part of a five-run sixth inning as the Seagulls (1-0) beat the Hawks (1-3) at Old Orchard Beach.

Matt Hurley picked up the win, allowing one run on two hits and striking out seven in 62/3 innings. Cody Blanchette added two hits and an RBI for the Seagulls. Jared Jordan hit an RBI single in the sixth for Sacopee.

GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER 3, FREEPORT 1: The Patriots (3-2) overcame an early deficit to down the Falcons (1-2) at Freeport.

John Villanueva had a double and single for Gray-New Gloucester, which totaled three runs in its last two at-bats.

Colby Wagner hit a first-inning homer for Freeport.

FALMOUTH 2, KENNEBUNK 0: Robbie Armitage went 3 for 4, including an RBI single in the third inning, and the Yachtsmen (4-0) shut out the Rams (1-4) at Kennebunk.

Marcus Cady added a pair of singles for Falmouth.

Max Fortier pitched a two-hitter for the Yachtsmen.

CAPE ELIZABETH 5, FRYEBURG ACADEMY 2: Brendan Tinsman had two hits and an RBI for the Capers (2-1), who scored four runs in the fifth inning to beat the Raiders (1-3) at Cape Elizabeth.

Sean Agrodnia picked up the win, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out six in 52/3 innings. Will Zeliff hit an RBI single in the sixth for Fryeburg.

BONNY EAGLE 4, BIDDEFORD 1: Brady Grass and Cody Mains had RBI singles, and the Scots (1-2) scored two runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings to get by the Tigers (1-1) at Standish.

After Carter Edgerton scored on a throwing error in the first to give Biddeford a 1-0 lead, Grass singled in the fourth to tie it and scored on a groundout by Nicholas Phinney to give the Scots a 2-1 lead.

WELLS 9, TRAIP ACADEMY 2: Cam Cousins had four hits, including a double, as the Warriors (2-2) cruised past the Rangers (2-1) at Kittery.

Tyler Bridge had two hits and drove in two runs for Wells, which scored three runs in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Trevor Salema had two hits and an RBI for Traip.

MARANACOOK 8, OCEANSIDE 5: Chris Florek hit two doubles and was the winning pitcher as the Black Bears (1-2) downed Oceanside (3-1) at Readfield.


EDWARD LITTLE 17, WINDHAM 8: Ganan Mancini had seven goals and three assists to lead the Red Eddies (2-2) over the Eagles (1-2) at Windham.

Tyler Woolston led Windham with four goals and three assists.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:24:03 +0000
Unity farm wins $2,966 grant for system to conserve rainwater Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:25:09 +0000 A small organic farm in Unity was one of 10 farms in the nation to receive a grant this month from The FruitGuys Community Fund, which gives money for sustainability projects.

The owners of Songbird Farm, Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell, will use the $2,966 grant to build a rainwater catchment system on their barn.

After the drought the Northeast suffered last summer – and which just officially ended for most of Maine this week – a system that will help the 13-acre farm conserve water will be a definite advantage, Davis said, especially because they have only one well.

Since March, groundwater levels have improved, according to the Maine River Flow Advisory Commission. The snowmelt and rain in April have provided good conditions to restore the groundwater.

Last summer, the state’s Drought Task Force met twice to discuss what officials called worsening drought conditions. The drought had been building for about three years, officials said, and affected southern Maine most harshly. A number of small-scale farmers in central Maine said the conditions were the worst they’d ever seen.

While the grains Davis and Nordell grow don’t require much water, the vegetable crops took a hit last summer.

“A guess would be that we probably got about one-third of what we were expecting,” Davis said, adding that throughout the fields the crops grew unevenly.

The rainwater catchment system that Davis and Nordell plan to build will collect water that hits the metal roof of their 40-foot barn. Gutters will channel the water to downspouts that empty into tanks, which will pump it out into the couple’s irrigation system.

Davis estimates that, given the surface area of the barn’s roof, a 1-inch rainstorm would provide 1,000 gallons of water.

“Which is kind of crazy,” she said.

Even if the state doesn’t suffer drought conditions again, Davis said, the system will help them get water into the irrigation system for their crops that are in high tunnels, which are unheated greenhouses that don’t get rainfall.

Davis came across the grant while doing research in the winter and applied in the first round, in February. Songbird Farm was one of 20 farms that made it to the second round, and the winners were announced April 6.

The grant comes from San Francisco-based The FruitGuys, a company that provides farm-fresh fruit to businesses so that employees can have healthful snacks at work. Its community fund, which is sponsored and managed fiscally by Community Initiatives of San Francisco, was established in 2012 and provides small grants of up to $5,000 for farms and agricultural nonprofits to complete sustainability projects.

While the couple had thought about adding a catchment system after they bought the farm nearly three years ago, the idea got “shaken up to the top” of the priorities list with the drought.

Still, it probably couldn’t have happened this year without the grant, Davis said.

“We’re super-grateful to the fund for granting us that money,” she said. “And besides just us, granting folks around the country who are doing cool, sustainable projects is really important.”

Davis and Nordell grow vegetables on 3 acres of their land, one of which is irrigated, and grains on the other 10 acres They also run a community-supported agricultural network, called the Pantry Share, which provides oats, beans, wheat and flour.

In the winter, the two travel the country as the folk duo Sassafras Stomp.

Before buying the farm in Unity, they rented land in Starks for four years.

Madeline St. Amour can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

]]> 0 Johanna Davis walks through one of the greenhouses full of pea plants Tuesday at her Songbird Farm in Unity. Songbird Farm is one of 10 in the country to receive a sustainability grant from The FruitGuys Community Fund. The farm received $2,966 to build a rainwater collection system. The system will help the farm conserve water, which will be an advantage in times of drought.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:43:30 +0000
Arsonist who burned Rockland restaurant jailed on probation violation Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:23:12 +0000 ROCKLAND — A 63-year-old serial arsonist who served prison time for destroying the former Grapes Restaurant in 2004 is back in jail for violating his probation.

John M. Moody, who now lives in the western Maine town of Canaan, was sentenced Wednesday in Knox County Unified Court in Rockland to six months in jail for possessing six lighters.

Moody is barred from having any incendiary devices as terms of his probation. He was convicted for arson in the Christmas Eve fire that destroyed the restaurant.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison with all but eight years suspended. He was also ordered to be on probation for six years upon his release. He was released from the Maine State Prison in August 2011.

Moody admitted to investigators that he poured paint thinner on the restaurant, lit the fire and then went home and cried. He also admitted to investigators that he set a fire earlier in 2004 to two dumpsters behind Rock Coast Sports, a portable toilet on Winter Street, and a house on Orange Street that was being renovated.

He unsuccessfully sought upon his release to have his probation amended to allow him to smoke.

On March 8, Moody’s probation officer checked on Moody at his home and found him with six lighters.

He is serving the sentence in the Knox County Jail in Rockland.

Moody, who was born in Vinalhaven, has a string of arson convictions dating back to the mid-1970s in Massachusetts. When he was arrested for the Grapes fire, he admitted to setting other fires in Maine including in Portland, Standish, Swanville, Rockland in 1999, Warren, Augusta and Sidney, according to police.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:25:37 +0000
Friday’s golf roundup: Blixt, Smith take Zurich Classic lead Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:56:12 +0000 AVONDALE, La. — Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith posted a 10-under 62 in Friday’s four-ball format to move into the lead at the Zurich Classic, which is in its first year of a new team format.

Blixt and Smith had a two-day total of 15-under 129, one shot better than Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay. The K.J Choi-Charlie Wi and Troy Merritt-Robert Streb pairings were tied for third at 13-under.

“Jonas is playing really well at the moment,” Smith said. “You know he’s going to make a birdie or par, so I’m just playing aggressive and letting it all fall into play.”

Tyrone Van Aswegen and Retief Goosen teamed up for a 60 to get to 11 under overall.

LPGA: Haru Nomura shot a 6-under 65 for a two-round total of 133 and a one-shot lead in the North Texas LPGA Shootout in Irving, Texas.

Ariya Jutanugarn was second following a 67, with Suzann Pettersen another shot behind.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Pablo Larrazabal fired a 6-under 66 to take a three-stroke lead halfway through the China Open in Beijing.

Larrazabal, offset a bogey with five birdies and an eagle on the par-4 11th to move to 14 under.

Dylan Frittelli had the lowest score of the round with a 63 and was tied for second at 11 under with overnight leader Alexander Levy (70).

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:17:03 +0000
Police say Carrabassett Valley man threw cocaine out window during 100 mph chase Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:54:03 +0000 EUSTIS — Police say a driver tried to outrun police at speeds topping 100 mph while dumping cocaine out his window.

Franklin County Chief Deputy Steven Lowell told the Sun Journal that the driver who tossed white powder out the window initially pulled over Thursday, then sped away.

A state trooper made the arrest in Stratton after Lowell broke off the pursuit because of dangerous speeds. A U.S. Border Patrol K-9 team detected cocaine in the car, police say.

Police charged Matthew Willihan, 34, of Carrabassett Valley with eluding an officer, failure to submit to arrest, drunken driving, criminal speed and possession of drugs. He was being held Friday in the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington. It was unknown if he had a lawyer.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:12:53 +0000
Major League notebook: Cespedes goes on DL Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:36:09 +0000 WASHINGTON — The New York Mets placed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring.

His absence is another blow to a team that has lost six straight and nine of 10, falling into last place in the NL East. Cespedes is hitting .270 with six homers and 10 RBI.

“They didn’t really see a lot,” Manager Terry Collins said of Cespedes’ MRI. “It’s probably better news than we thought. It’s still going to be awhile, obviously, but it’s in a different part of (the hamstring) where the injury was last week.”

Cespedes doubled in the fourth inning Thursday against Atlanta and limped into second. He needed help to reach the dugout.

On April 20, he left a game against Philadelphia because of a hamstring problem. He returned to the lineup Wednesday.

“I haven’t talked to him except after the game yesterday, and he’s like everybody,” Collins said. “We’re all frustrated right now.”

Collins also said pitcher Noah Syndergaard tossed Friday afternoon and could pitch Sunday if the right-hander reported no discomfort. Syndergaard was scratched from his start Thursday because of biceps and shoulder discomfort.

MARINERS: Felix Hernandez is expected to miss three to four weeks because of bursitis in his right shoulder.

Hernandez was placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday after he pitched only two innings in his start at Detroit the previous night. Hernandez is 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA in five starts this season.

Outfielder Mitch Haniger, also injured Tuesday, has a Grade 2 sprain of his right oblique and is expected to be out three to four weeks. He’s batting .338 with four homers and 16 RBI.

RANGERS: Sam Dyson was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list before Friday night’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

The Rangers optioned right-hander Anthony Bass to Triple-A Round Rock. Catcher Brett Nicholas was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Round Rock.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:46:16 +0000
Trump picks anti-abortion activist for key post Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:27:37 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump announced Friday that he will appoint Charmaine Yoest, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-abortion activists, to a high-level post in the Health and Human Services department.

Yoest, a former Reagan administration official who until last year was president of Americans United for Life, will serve as assistant secretary of public affairs. In that position, she will help develop a communications strategy for the sprawling agency that includes Medicaid, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and family planning programs.

During her nearly eight years at the helm of AUL, the organization was pivotal in pushing Republican-led states to enact restrictions on abortion in the name of women’s safety. The organization developed model legislation to require women to undergo ultrasounds before obtaining the procedure and to cut off government funding to Planned Parenthood, among other actions.

Yoest was one of Trump’s most outspoken supporters during the 2016 campaign, helping to shore up his reputation with social conservatives. She serves as a senior fellow at American Values, a conservative nonprofit that opposes abortion rights and supports “traditional marriage.”

The appointment was greeted with cheers from anti-abortion groups, which praised the choice as evidence that Trump was making good on his promise to promote pro-life causes, despite previously supporting abortion rights.

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, called Yoest one of the movement’s most powerful communicators and lauded her “groundbreaking efforts to advance pro-life, pro-woman legislation at the state level.”

“This is a new era for the pro-life movement and our fight to protect unborn children and their mothers from the horror of abortion,” Dannenfelser said.

Abortion rights groups expressed concern in equal measure.

“Charmaine Yoest has spoken at length about her desire to ban abortion in this country and has spent her career working to abolish women’s most basic constitutional right to bodily autonomy,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.

Yoest, a breast cancer survivor and mother of five who lives in Virginia, holds a Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia. She has been an outspoken proponent of the view that abortion is harmful to women and that regulations on abortion clinics are necessary to protect women’s safety.

Abortion-rights groups have accused Yoest of using those points to conceal her ultimate agenda: to undermine women’s access to abortion. Based on AUL’s model bills, states have imposed such strict regulations that abortion clinics in Texas and elsewhere have closed. The organization also has championed laws requiring that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated rather than disposed of like medical waste.

In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Yoest said her belief that abortion is wrong does not preclude her from also caring about women. Those who accuse her of feigning support for women are trying to muzzle her movement, she said.

“Why could we not care about how women are being hurt in abortion clinics and still be pro-life?” she asked. “It’s designed to shut our voices down.”

]]> 0 YOESTFri, 28 Apr 2017 21:34:55 +0000
Auto racing roundup: Kenseth wins pole at Richmond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:21:54 +0000 RICHMOND, Va. — Matt Kenseth won the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

The 2003 series champion needed only four laps in three rounds of qualifying Friday, outrunning final-round qualifiers like Joey Logano, who was fastest in each of the first two rounds, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who made it to the final round, but will start 12th.

“I don’t get a lot of poles, so any time I get a pole, it’s pretty special,” Kenseth said.

The pole was just the 19th for Kenseth, who will make his 623rd career start this weekend, and his second at Richmond. He and teammates Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and rookie Daniel Suarez will be trying to give Joe Gibbs Racing its first victory of the season at a track where they have been dominant in recent years. Gibbs cars have won the last three races on the 0.75-mile oval.

“I was reminded last week that I’ve led zero laps this year, and I think I have like negative two stage points, or whatever they are,” said Kenseth, who is 20th in the points standings after eight races. “They took some away because we’ve been so bad early in races, so hopefully we can turn that around Sunday and stay up front and hopefully be in the mix at the end of the day.”

Kenseth has won twice at Richmond, the last time in the fall race in 2015.

Hamlin, who grew up about 20 miles from the track, will start 28th, while Busch will start seventh and Suarez 11th.

Ryan Blaney, driving for the Wood Brothers, will start second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Logano.

“It’s so frustrating when you win the first two rounds, and the one that pays the money, you are not there,” Logano said.

For Blaney, it will mark the third time he starts on the front row this season, again leaving him one spot shy of qualifying for the Clash at Daytona, the season-opening exhibition race before the Daytona 500. Pole winners from the previous year are guaranteed a spot, along with selected others.

“I really want to race in the Clash at Dayton, so these seconds are really hurting,” Blaney said. “That race to me is like the coolest one, so I want to try to get a pole to race that.”

His team almost got him that spot, but Kenseth’s speed was 121.076 mph, and Blaney came in at 120.854 after running five total laps.

“It was a good effort,” he said. “I didn’t think we were very good in Round 1. … We got better for Round 2 and better for Round 3.”

Kevin Harvick, the only driver with multiple poles this year, will start sixth.

FORMULA ONE: Points leader Sebastian Vettel recovered after a spin in the first practice session and set the fastest time of the day at the Russian Grand Prix.

]]> 0 Kenseth, right, talks with crew members Friday during qualifying for Sunday's Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:45:01 +0000
Making new album an emotional roller coaster for Mary J. Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:14:47 +0000 LOS ANGELES — Mary J. Blige may be spitting fireball lyrics about her soon-to-be ex-husband on her new album, but the songs didn’t start from a place of anger and hate.

It began with hope.

“This album … (was) written from the perspective of me fighting for my marriage. And then when it all blew up in August, I had to start rewriting songs,” Blige said in an interview this week.

The Grammy-winning icon said she spent months releasing her emotions and heartache on “Strength of a Woman,” out Friday, which features a number of details about her very public breakup and ongoing court battle with her former manager and husband, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs.

“There was no moment where I felt like I was going to keep this in because it was way too much for me to handle on my own,” said Blige, best known for her sad and painful songs. “These are things I needed to get out. I needed to express myself and so it hurt, but it’s good. It’s good.”

On her 13th studio effort, the New Yorker does not mince words as she details the emotional ending of her nearly 13-year marriage and makes claims of lies and infidelity. Blige filed for divorce from Isaacs last July, citing irreconcilable differences. She also asked a court to deny Isaacs spousal support.

“There is no happy ending right now because we’re in the thick of it,” said Blige of her divorce settlement. “We’re in the midst of all this foolishness and until the divorce is final, this is where we are. But I’m going to smile and have people make me smile and love myself and not give up.”

Grammy-nominated singer Jazmine Sullivan, who has written for Blige, Jennifer Hudson and other R&B stars, said writing for Blige’s new album was an emotional rollercoaster because as Blige’s life changed, so did the songs they were crafting.

“The first single (‘Thick of It’) was different the first time I wrote it. She called me, she was in a different state and then as things started to change in her life, she had to call me again and kind of fill me in, and we had to make some changes to the song so it could fit where she was at that point,” she said. “It actually started as kind of a happy, uplifting song because she was fighting for her marriage and trying to make it work, so it came from that point of view. Some months later she said things had changed, so we had to change the lyrics.”

As with most heartache, Blige moves on to the revenge phase with songs like “Glow Up,” where she teamed with Missy Elliott, DJ Khaled and Quavo from Migos to fire a warning shot: “You had this one coming,” she sings. “You made me cry. Now it’s your time.”

In the deceptively smooth “Set Me Free,” Blige sweetly croons, “There’s a special place in hell for you. You gon’ pay for what you did to me.”

“I needed that moment. You know, I’m angry. I’ve been had,” she said. “My music is therapeutic to me as well.”

It’s not all darkness and rage. Blige sings about finding love after heartbreak in “Smile” and teams with Kanye West for the empowering anthem “Love Yourself.” And as the album title suggests, Blige certainly finds her strength through uplifting tracks like “Indestructible” and “Survivor.”

“It’s about knowing you’re worthy and it’s a process,” she said. “I haven’t come out the end yet. Not yet. Every day you have to remember to love yourself. … I’m in the like myself (stage) really heavy. But to love yourself is (a) process, but I’m getting there.”

Blige, 46, will take fans behind-the-scenes of the album when “Strength of a Woman: An Album Documentary” debuts May 2 on VH1.

The singer said her harrowing journey through pain and self-discovery has not left her without hope for the future. However, she may think twice before walking down the aisle.

“I haven’t given up on love, but I definitely gave up on marriage for a while. I think I’m good on marriage for a while,” she said.

]]> 0, 28 Apr 2017 21:15:19 +0000
Trump promises NRA his support Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:13:16 +0000 ATLANTA — On the eve of his 100th day in office, President Trump made a triumphant return before members of the National Rifle Association, promising a group that was one of his earliest and most enthusiastic supporters that he will “never infringe on the right of the people to bear arms.”

Trump, the first sitting president to address the NRA since Ronald Reagan, delivered a fiery speech in which he recounted his election victory and early actions from his administration that are friendly to the gun rights group, and he promised there would be more to come.

“You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump told thousands of members attending the NRA’s annual convention. “The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

With his appearance, Trump marked the coming milestone in much the same way he has governed in the early stages of his presidency: by appealing to his base.

The NRA claims 5 million members, including many white rural voters, a demographic that helped tip the electoral college in Trump’s favor.

The association played a powerful role in Trump’s election, providing critical support in battleground states. It spent more on behalf of Trump than any outside group and began its advertising earlier than in any other presidential cycle.

In remarks before Trump spoke, NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox recalled the group’s endorsement at its convention last year, saying Trump was “the most proudly Second Amendment nominee in American history.”

“On Election Day, NRA members and gun owners stormed to the polls in an act of sheer defiance of the elites,” Cox said.

While making general promises to stand with the NRA moving forward, Trump made no mention of two of the group’s leading priorities in Congress: The NRA will be looking for Trump to put the weight of his office behind a bill that would make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines.

And the Hearing Protection Act would remove federal registration and identification requirements for gun silencers.

]]> 0 Trump addresses the NRA's annual convention Friday in Atlanta. "You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you," he said.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:26:09 +0000
Half of 675 immigrants caught in raids had no more than traffic convictions Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:06:48 +0000 About half of the 675 immigrants who were picked up in roundups across the United States in the days after President Trump took office had no criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses, mostly drunken driving, as their most serious crimes, according to data obtained by The Washington Post.

Records provided by congressional aides Friday offered the most detailed look yet at the backgrounds of the people rounded up and targeted for deportation in early February by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents assigned to regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York.

Two people had been convicted of homicide, 80 had been convicted of assault, and 57 had convictions for “dangerous drugs.” Many of the most serious criminals were given top billing in ICE news statements about the operation.

The largest single group – 163 immigrants convicted of traffic offenses – was mentioned only briefly. Over 90 percent of those cases involved drunken driving, ICE said Friday. Of those taken into custody in the raids, 177 had no criminal convictions at all, though 66 had charges pending, largely immigration or traffic offenses.

The raids were part of a nationwide immigration roundup dubbed Operation Cross Check, which accounts for a small portion of the 21,362 immigrants the Trump administration took into custody for deportation proceedings from January through mid-March.

The two-month total represents a 32 percent increase in deportation arrests over the same period last year. Most are criminals, administration officials have said. But 5,441 were not criminals, double the number of undocumented immigrants arrested for deportation a year earlier. The administration has released a detailed breakdown of the criminal records only of the raids in early February.

Trump has said that public safety threats are his top priority. Shortly after he was elected, he vowed to first deport serious criminals from the United States.

But critics say immigration agents instead have also targeted students, parents of U.S. citizens who do not have serious criminal records and minor offenders.

“That makes me so angry,” said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, which is organizing demonstrations Monday to protest Trump’s immigration policies. She said that many of the DUI convictions are years-old and that the data “confirms our worst fears, which is that this administration is really trying to deport as many as possible regardless of whether they have a criminal record.”

President Barack Obama also deported thousands of people who never committed crimes, but toward the end of his administration, he imposed strict new rules that prioritized the arrest of criminals.

The Trump administration has said the current president also wants to prioritize deporting criminals. But officials add that anyone in the United States illegally could be detained and deported.

“As Secretary Kelly has made clear, ICE will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” said ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea, referring to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

ICE arrested immigrants across the United States in February as part of Operation Cross Check, an initiative that seeks to detain immigrants that also occurred during the Obama administration.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors limits on immigration, said ICE is properly enforcing immigration laws by arresting criminals and people in the United States without papers.

“Those are legitimate reasons to remove people,” she said. “ICE officers are no longer operating under the restraints imposed by the Obama administration. They’re not forced to look the other way when they encounter people who are removable.”

Congressional aides said the information from ICE follows months of frustration from lawmakers that the agency is not responding fast enough to requests for information.

After initially being supportive of Kelly, many Democrats have turned on him, believing he is being less than forthcoming about his sprawling department’s moves to implement Trump’s immigration policy.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, shot back at congressional critics last week in a speech at George Washington University.

“If lawmakers do not like the laws they’ve passed and we are charged to enforce, then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws,” Kelly said. “Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines.”

That kind of approach “wasn’t a constructive way to deal with Congress,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in an interview Friday. Democrats, he said, are frustrated by Trump’s immigration policies but are unable to change laws because they don’t currently control Congress.

“That kind of language ought to be jettisoned,” Hoyer said.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:30:56 +0000
Softball: Yarmouth defeats Greely, 7-1 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:06:33 +0000 YARMOUTH — Well-poised Yarmouth rolled to a 7-1 victory against Greely in a Western Maine Conference softball game Friday.

“I was very pleased with how we played on both offense and defense,” Yarmouth Coach Amy Ashley said. “On defense we made some plays, and I was pleased with the effort and execution today.”

The St. Pierre twins, Andrea and Sydney, who bat first and second in the lineup, sparked the offense. Between them they banged out five hits, scored two runs and drove in three.

“They do a lot for us,” Ashley said. “They’re middle infielders and they always know where each other is going to be. They’re so level-headed. In moments where we tend to freak out, they’re the ones who calm us down.”

Ceanne Lyon scattered six hits, struck out seven and walked one.

“She kept the ball low so we were able to make some plays in the infield,” Ashley said.

It was the fourth loss for winless Greely.

“We’re so inexperienced,” Coach Rob Hale said. “We have seven new players and we can implode.”

The Rangers were very much in the game before the defense fell apart with two outs in the fourth inning and Greely clinging to a 1-0 lead. A dropped third strike, a bobbled ball in the infield, some shoddy play in the outfield and three singles resulted in the Clippers scoring their first four runs.

“You saw the inexperience,” Hale said. “They make a mistake and they don’t want to let down their teammates so they lose their aggressiveness.”

Five players were expected back from the team that played for the Class B South championship last season, but the Rangers lost sisters Jennie Smith, the starting catcher, and Anna Smith, the starting second baseman, to season-ending knee injuries.

The recent wet weather also made it difficult for Hale to get the team outside to work on important aspects of the game during practice.

“The last two years I had a very experienced team that could play inside and do a lot of stuff,” he said. “This team needs reps in a full softball field setting … We’re making progress but it’s slow.”

Greely opened the scoring in the first inning when Kayley Cimino singled with two outs, stole second and third, and scored on Maddie Rawnsley’s opposite-field double to deep right. Cimino ended up with two singles and a double.

In the fourth, Tasha Powers drove in two runs with a bloop single into right and Lyon singled sharply into center to drive in a run to help send Yarmouth into its 4-1 lead.

The Clippers (2-0) scored one run in the fifth. Andrea St. Pierre led off with a triple into the alley in left and scored when Sydney St. Pierre dumped a single into right.

Yarmouth scored two more runs in the sixth.

Powers, who led off, reached second on an infield error and went to third on a passed ball. With two outs, Andrea St. Pierre singled sharply to center to make it 6-1. After she stole second, Sydney St. Pierre drove in the final run of the game with a single, her third hit.

]]> 0, ME - APRIL 28: Yarmouth pitcher #18 Ceanne Lyon is congratulated by #17 Lydia Guay and teammates as she makes the out on Greely #9 Kayley Cimino at third after a rundown in the sixth inning at Greely at Yarmouth softball. (Staff photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer)Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:20:12 +0000
Trump blames Obama for flawed vetting of Flynn Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:58:38 +0000 WASHINGTON — Even though he named Michael Flynn to be his top national security aide, President Trump on Friday laid the blame for any flaws in Flynn’s vetting at the feet of his predecessor.

In an interview airing Friday evening on Fox News Channel’s “The First 100 Days,” Trump tried to deflect recent criticism of his decision to appoint Flynn as national security adviser despite Flynn’s past lobbying on behalf of Turkish government interests and his acceptance of tens of thousands of dollars from a Russian state-sponsored television network.

“When they say we didn’t vet, well Obama I guess didn’t vet, because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration,” Trump said.

Though Flynn was indeed with the Trump administration for a short period before he was forced out, he campaigned vigorously for Trump for months during the 2016 election battle.

President Barack Obama fired Flynn from his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, but Flynn maintained a security clearance that was reissued in January 2016. Trump appointed Flynn as national security adviser in January. He forced him to step down in February.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:16:27 +0000
Scarcity of fruit pickers means robots may step in Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:47:12 +0000 SPOKANE, Wash. — Harvesting Washington state’s vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States.

That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market.

The robotic pickers don’t get tired and can work 24 hours a day.

“Human pickers are getting scarce,” said Gad Kober, a co-founder of Israel-based FFRobotics. “Young people do not want to work in farms, and elderly pickers are slowly retiring.”

FFRobotics and Abundant Robotics, of Hayward, California, are racing to get their mechanical pickers to market within the next couple of years.

Harvest has been mechanized for large portions of the agriculture industry such as wheat, corn, green beans and tomatoes for some time. But for more fragile commodities like apples, berries, table grapes and lettuce – where the crop’s appearance is especially important – harvest is still done by hand.

Members of Washington’s $7.5 billion annual agriculture industry have long grappled with labor shortages, and depend on workers coming up from Mexico each year to harvest many crops.

But President Trump’s hard line against immigrants in the U.S. illegally has many farmers in the country looking for alternative harvest methods. Some have purchased new equipment to try to reduce the number of workers they’ll need, while others have lobbied politicians to get them to deal with immigration in a way that minimizes harm to their livelihoods.

“Who knows what this administration will do or not do?” said Jim McFerson, head of the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Center in Wenatchee. For farmers, “it’s a question of survival.”

Washington leads the nation in production of apples and several other crops. Harvest starts in the spring with asparagus and runs until all the apples are off the trees in late fall.

The work is hard and dangerous, and has long drawn Mexican workers to central Washington, where several counties near the Canadian border are now majority-Hispanic. Experienced pickers, who are paid by the bin, can make more than $200 a day.

Advocates for farmworkers say robot pickers will have a negative effect.

The eventual loss of jobs for humans will be huge, said Erik Nicholson of Seattle, an official with the United Farm Workers union. He estimated half of the state’s farmworkers are immigrants who are in the country illegally.

But many of them have settled in Washington and are productive members of the community, he said.

“They are scared of losing their jobs to mechanization,” Nicholson said. “A robot is not going to rent a house, buy clothing for their kids, buy food in a grocery and reinvest that money in the local economy.”

While financial details are not available, the builders say the robotic pickers should pay for themselves in two years. That puts the likely cost of the machines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each.

FFRobotics is developing a machine that has three-fingered grips to grab fruit and twist or clip it from a branch. The machine would have between four and 12 robotic arms, and can pick up to 10,000 apples an hour, Kober said.

One machine would be able to harvest a variety of crops, taking 85 to 90 percent of the crop off the trees, Kober said. Humans could pick the rest.

Abundant Robotics is working on a picker that uses suction to vacuum apples off trees.

Plans for the robotic harvesters – including a goal of getting them to market before 2019 – were discussed in February at an international convention of fruit growers in Wenatchee.

The two robot makers are likely to hit their production goals, said Karen Lewis, a Washington State University cooperative extension agent who has studied the issue.

“Both of them will be in the field with prototypes this fall,” Lewis said, calling the robotic harvesters a “game changer.”

But for the machines to work, apples and other crops must be grown in new trellis systems that allow robots to see and harvest the fruit, she said.

“We are evolving the tree architecture and apple placement to be compatible with robotics,” Lewis said, a process called “robot-ready.”

Large farming operations likely will be first to adopt the machines, but it might be decades before their use is widespread.

“I think for the next 10 to 20 years, they will be used by some growers to supplement regular picking crews and to serve as a backstop for picker shortages,” said Mike Gempler of the Washington Growers League in Yakima. Reliability and cost will determine if their use expands.

Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, whose family owns a large farming operation in Washington’s Yakima Valley, said the industry is deeply interested in alternatives to human labor.

“We are absolutely looking at ways we can increase our efficiency,” said Newhouse, adding his family’s farm each year employs some 120 farmworkers, many of them picking cherries and nectarines.

The industry has no choice but to embrace mechanization, said Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, a trade group for farmers in Yakima.

“We don’t see some miraculous new source of labor appearing on the horizon,” Powers said. “We think labor will continue to be a scarce resource.”

]]> 0 Garcia empties a bag of Golden Delicious apples into a bin at an orchard near Wapato, Wash., in this file photo from fall 2013. Orchards that depend on immigrant laborers are exploring mechanized harvesting alternatives.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:23:50 +0000
Wrestlers help save program in SAD 11 budget Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:41:42 +0000 GARDINER — For more than a half-hour, students hoping to wrestle at Gardiner Area High School made their case Thursday to the school district’s finance committee.

Alone, or standing with a parent or two, the students stood before the committee and reeled off the reasons why the high school wrestling program should not be cut: Wrestling helps them stay in shape, do well in school and meet and make friends.

But the words of Dan Del Gallo, a Gardiner Area High School graduate and 2017 NCAA Division III national champion in his weight class, were persuasive.

“I’m sorry if I get emotional,” Del Gallo said, “but it’s shocking to see this program considered for being dropped.”

Wrestling develops character like no other sport, the three-time state champion said, and it helped turn his life around. When he graduates in a couple of weeks from the University of Southern Maine, it will be with a 3.9 grade point average and that would not have been possible without Gardiner’s traditionally strong wrestling program.

“That was an impressive young group that got up to speak,” Eric Jermyn, the finance committee chairman, said Friday. “And Danny Del Gallo was particularly impressive and moving.”

When the district’s proposed $24 million budget is presented to the full School Administrative District 11 board May 4, it will include funding for high school wrestling and freshman boys’ and girls’ basketball, although not for freshman football, all of which had been identified for elimination.

The spending plan reflects a 0.63 percent increase over the current year’s budget, Jermyn said. The tax increase to the communities that make up the school district – Gardiner, West Gardiner, Randolph and Pittston – will be about 3.74 percent. The amount will differ by community because of local property valuations.

“I do feel like we worked really hard on the budget,” he said.

When the finance committee started its work, the proposed spending plan was about $800,000 higher than the current year’s approved budget. The initial target was to pare down that figure to about $420,000 higher than the current year’s, but the committee ended up with a recommendation that’s $337,000 higher.

On Thursday, committee members debated the costs and benefits of sports for the students who participate and the need to add money for supplies back into the proposed budget.

SAD 11 Superintendent Pat Hopkins made a case for restoring funding for supplies if funding were restored for athletics. As a former high school athlete herself, Hopkins said she understands the value in sports, but adding money for supplies benefits all the district’s students.

“It’s also our responsibility to make sure students are prepared for college and careers,” she said at Thursday’s meeting.

When the committee agreed to fund the sports at $19,500, it also agreed to restore that much for supplies for classrooms.

Among the other changes in the proposed budget is a change in technology for students. While students have been using MacBooks, an Apple product, some will start using Chromebooks, a more economical alternative.

Because of investments in software, training and budget constraints, the district cannot switch all the computers at one time. Not all the educational software is compatible for both Mac and PC systems, but that’s expected to change as more schools across the United States opt for Chromebooks.

Jermyn characterized the budget as lean.

“It’s the must-haves that are in the budget,” he said. “There are no nice-to-haves.”

At this point in the process, Jermyn said, the only unknown is the amount of state subsidy the district may receive. Because that’s not currently known, it won’t be a part of the budget that will go before voters in June, and the district ordinarily would not have the authorization to spend that money.

But this year, changes at the state level will allow school districts to address that with a warrant article that details how that money could be used.

Jermyn said the budget that goes to the school board will have some flexibility in how that subsidy can be used. To make the budget numbers work, $287,000 from the district’s carry-forward funds were used. Replenishing that fund is a priority, he said, and a warrant article that allows that will be presented.

But as budgets are more lean, there’s less carry-forward available to help develop budgets, and the school board will have to look at other options for savings.

“The reality is that the enrollment in the district is shrinking, and we do have to consider how to consolidate,” Jermyn said, and that might include closing a school with low enrollment.

That’s a conversation that’s expected to get underway later this year, he said, and it will involve elected officials and residents of the communities that make up the district.

“We are delivering a good education experience. Our kids are seeing good results and getting into very good schools. We have kids that will be headed to Ivy League schools,” Jermyn said. “The teachers are still the same. The students are still the same.”

Jessica Lowell can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

]]> 0"It's shocking to see this program considered for being dropped," Dan Del Gallo told the finance panel.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:27:07 +0000
Friday’s Maine college roundup: St. Joseph’s wins two blowouts Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:29:13 +0000 STANDISH — Taylor Black drove in eight runs as the St. Joseph’s baseball team swept a doubleheader over Norwich University by scores of 16-0 and 13-0 Friday afternoon at Mahaney Diamond.

The Monks improved to 28-6 overall and 11-1 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. The Cadets dropped to 12-21, 6-6.

Black hit a two-run homer and an RBI single in the opener, then added a grand slam and an RBI single in the second game.

Travis Godbout pitched the final six innings and allowed four hits and no walks while striking out six.

Black and Max McCoomb each went 4 for 4 and combined for seven RBI and five runs in the opener. The Monks scored nine runs in the third inning and finished with 16 hits.

Joey Murphy and Dennis Meehan each had three hits in the second game, when the Monks scored seven runs in the second inning and five in the third.

Meehan, Black and Chris Gerossie each hit RBI singles in the second inning. Meehan and Black homered in the third.

Matt Demma and Philip LeVangie combined on a four-hitter.

BOWDOIN 5, COLBY 4: The Polar Bears (13-15, 5-5 NESCAC East) scored five unearned runs with two outs in the fifth inning and held off the Mules (9-12-1, 2-8) in Brunswick.

Colby Joncas hit a two-run single, and Bowdoin scored its other runs on two errors.

Matt Garcia hit a three-run homer in the seventh for Colby.

Jack Wilhoite pitched the final two innings, striking out six, for his first save.

SOUTHERN MAINE C.C. 2, CENTRAL MAINE C.C. 1: Nathan Huot pitched the final inning for the win and ended the game with single in the 11th inning as the Seawolves (8-13-1, 5-3-1 YSCC) edged the Mustangs (8-7-1, 4-7-1) at South Portland.

Caleb Chambers homered, and Max Salevsky scattered eight hits while striking out four over 10 innings for SMCC.

TUFTS 4, BATES 3: Freshman pinch hitter Ryan Day singled in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth and the Jumbos (23-5-1, 7-3 NESCAC East) went on to defeat the Bobcats (13-9, 7-3) in Medford, Massachusetts.

Asher MacDonald had two hits and Connor Speed allowed six hits over eight innings while striking out three and walking two for Bates. Jack Arend hit a solo homer.


ST. JOSEPH’S SWEEPS MT. IDA: The Monks (11-8, 13-13 GNAC) got strong pitching from Kylie McFadden in the opener and from Kristal Smith and Caitlyn King in the second game of a doubleheader sweep against the Mustangs (17-11, 12-7) at Newton, Massachusetts.

The Monks won the opener 5-0 on a five-hitter by McFadden, who struck out three. Meghan Elliott had three hits, including an RBI single in the first inning and an RBI double in th seventh.

In Game 2, Smith allowed six hits over 51/3 innings before King closed it out for a 3-2 victory. Carla Tripp had two hits, and Smith hit an RBI single in the second inning. Katie Chadbourne scored on a wild pitch in the third and Burns scored the winning run on a double steal in the fifth.

BOWDOIN 3, BATES 0: Katie Hoadley tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks, Claire McCarthy had two hits and Marisa O’Toole homered as the Polar Bears (25-8, 7-3 NESCAC East) shut out the Bobcats (10-14, 1-7) in Lewiston.

O’Toole homered in the sixth inning. Bowdoin added to its lead in the seventh when Lauren Nguyen scored on an error and Jordan Gowdy singled home Samantha Valdivia.

Andrea Russo had two hits for Bates.

GORDON 2, UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND 0: Melissa Sprague pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts and one walk for UNE, but the fifth-seeded Nor’easters (15-14) lost to the eighth-seeded Fighting Scots (15-20) in a Commonwealth Coast Conference play-in game at Biddeford.

USM, UMASS-BOSTON SPLIT: The Huskies (13-14, 5-5 Little East) won the opener 7-2, and the Beacons (22-9, 7-5) won the second game 8-7 at Gorham.

Mary Caron and Shelby Obert each had two hits for USM in the opener. The Huskies score four runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Obert, Allison Pillar and Amber Kelly and a sacrifice fly Brooke Cross.

Pillar had three hits and five RBI in the second game.

SOUTHERN MAINE C.C. SWEEPS CENTRAL MAINE C.C.: The Seawolves (13-4, 7-1 YSCC) took two five-inning games, 9-1 and 11-0, from the Mustangs (0-9, 0-9) in South Portland.

Sarah Guimond pitched a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and drove in two runs in the opener.

Kayla Abdul had three hits with three runs scored in the second game, while Guimond, Emile Coffin and Kahli Philibotte each had two RBI. Kristen Mackenzie pitched a two-hitter with four strikeouts.

TRINITY 1, COLBY 0: Nicole Towner hit an RBI single in the first inning and Lindsay Golia pitched a four-hitter as Trinity (19-11, 8-2 NESCAC East) beat Colby (9-17, 2-8) in Waterville.


UMASS-BOSTON 14, SOUTHERN MAINE 9: Bryce Randall, Jeff Urmston, Paul Leonardo and Tristan Dundas scored two goals apiece for USM (6-9, 3-4 Little East) in a loss to the Beacons (8-7, 5-2) in Boston.


NESCAC: Bowdoin, Bates and Colby and the other seven football teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference will add a ninth game to their schedules, starting with the 2017 season.

Under the new format, the season will start a week earlier and each NESCAC team will play every other team in the conference, rather than missing one opponent each season.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:56:16 +0000
Rebel Wilson sues publisher for defamation Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:01:00 +0000 SYDNEY — Rebel Wilson is suing an Australian publisher for defamation over a series of magazine articles the actress says cost her movie roles by painting her as a serial liar.

Wilson’s lawyer, Renee Enbom, said during a court hearing Friday that the Australian-born actress would present evidence that the articles published by Bauer Media in 2015 led to her film contracts being terminated.

Wilson’s lawsuit, filed last year, accuses Bauer of damaging her reputation by printing articles that alleged she had used a fake name and lied about her age and upbringing in Australia. The articles appeared online and in print in several Australian magazines including Woman’s Day and The Australian Women’s Weekly.

The lawsuit claims that Wilson was humiliated and lost out on roles because of the stories. On Friday, her lawyer told the Victoria state Supreme Court in Melbourne that the articles tarnished Wilson’s reputation in Hollywood as a fair and honest person.

Justice John Dixon ordered Wilson to provide the court with her film contracts and evidence of all her earnings since 2011.

The actress, known for her roles in comedies such as “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” is seeking unspecified damages from the publisher. She did not appear in court Friday but is expected to give evidence at the trial, which is scheduled to begin May 22.

Bauer Media did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

]]> 0 Wilson says Bauer Media hurt her reputation by printing articles that alleged she had used a fake name and lied about her age and upbringing in Australia. Richard Shotwell/Invision/APFri, 28 Apr 2017 20:01:00 +0000
Texas jurors strip radio host of primary custody of children Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:53:43 +0000 AUSTIN, Texas — A jury has stripped right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of having primary custody of his children and awarded joint custody to his ex-wife.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that state District Judge Orlinda Naranjo also announced that Kelly Jones will decide where their three children will live.

The Travis County jury deliberated Thursday afternoon and late into the night before returning its verdict.

In closing arguments, the ex-wife’s attorney told jurors the radio personality is a “cult leader” who is turning their children against her.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:53:43 +0000
Appeals court upholds block against Anthem buying Cigna Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:45:56 +0000 WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday left in place a decision blocking Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem’s bid to buy rival Cigna, saying that a bigger company is not better for consumers.

The 2-1 decision upholds a federal judge’s ruling in February that said the proposed $48 billion acquisition would further reduce competition in the already concentrated health insurance market.

Anthem argued the combination would save $2.4 billion in medical costs and lead to lower consumer premiums. But the Justice Department said Anthem had no real plan to reach those savings. The government sued last summer to block the deal amid concerns over its effect on prices and consumer choices. The case went to trial late last year.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit likely dooms an acquisition bid that has lasted nearly two years. Even Cigna has soured on the deal, filing a separate lawsuit seeking a $1.85 billion termination fee from Anthem and billions more in damages.

Consumer groups also had opposed the deal, arguing it would leave consumers fewer choices. Industry experts suggested any consumer impact from the deal would take years to materialize and could lead to savings in some areas but higher costs elsewhere.

Writing for the majority, Judge Judith Rogers said the lower court was correct to halt the acquisition “based on Anthem’s failure to show the kind of extraordinary efficiencies necessary to offset the conceded anticompetitive effect” of the deal.

In dissent, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said a merger would allow the resulting larger company to negotiate lower provider rates and mean cost-savings for consumers.

He said he would send the case back to the lower court for further deliberations.

Anthem had pushed the deal as a way to help the companies negotiate better prices with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and doctor groups. The company also said the deal would help cut expenses and add more customers, which helps insurers spread out the cost of investing in technology to manage and improve care.

CEO Joseph Swedish also has said the Cigna deal would help it stabilize pricing in the volatile public exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. The Indianapolis-based insurer, which sells coverage in big states like California and New York, is a significant player in that market.

It offers plans on exchanges in 14 states and covers more than 1 million people.

Swedish said earlier this week that Anthem is making tentative plans to return to the exchanges next year, but that could change if it doesn’t know for certain by early June whether the government will fund an important cost-sharing subsidy for consumers.

Anthem Inc. announced its bid for Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna Corp. during a wave of acquisitions that swept through the managed care sector in the summer of 2015. Of the three deals announced then, only Medicaid specialist Centene Corp.’s approximately $6.3 billion bid for Health Net has closed.

Earlier this year, another federal judge blocked Aetna Inc.’s roughly $34 billion acquisition of Medicare Advantage coverage provider Humana Inc. Aetna then said it was abandoning its deal.

Anthem representatives did not immediately respond on Friday to a request for comment about its next steps.

Friday’s decision generated little surprise on Wall Street, where Anthem shares slipped a little deeper than the broader market, and Cigna’s stock was little changed.

]]> 0 combo of file photos shows signage for health insurers Cigna Corp., and Anthem Inc. A federal appeals court on Friday left in place a decision blocking Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem's bid to buy rival Cigna, saying that a bigger company is not better for consumers. The 2-1 decision upholds a federal judge's ruling in February that said the proposed $48 billion acquisition would reduce competition in the concentrated insurance market.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:45:19 +0000
Smitten Spaniard prompts mixed response Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:42:30 +0000 MADRID — A young Spaniard who was smitten with a woman he saw on a tram posted fliers on lampposts hoping to make contact.

Someone claiming to be the woman responded by pleading with him to leave her alone.

Spanish newspaper El Pais and other media reported Friday how Sergio Moreno had posted a letter titled “The Girl on the Tram” in the southeastern city of Murcia, describing the date and time of seeing her, how she was dressed and how he wished he could have cheered her up.

The story went viral when pictures started appearing of a supposed response from the woman, accusing Moreno of harassment and saying “if you want to make me happy, stop looking for me.”

But El Espanol newspaper cited a woman who said she wasn’t on the tram but had written the response because she and her friends had viewed Moreno’s letter not as one of romance but one that instilled fear.

Moreno told La Opinion de Murcia newspaper he had just wanted to meet up with the woman because she had seemed unhappy and denied accusations that he was bullying or being sexist.

He said he had received about 300 calls, some encouraging him, others insulting him and threatening him.

He said if the woman didn’t respond by Tuesday, he would throw away his phone.

The number he posted didn’t ring Friday.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:42:30 +0000
Six arrested in Oxford County drug bust Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:35:39 +0000 Six people were arrested in Oxford County early Friday on heroin and cocaine trafficking changes.

The arrests came after the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, along with Maine State Police tactical team members, executed two search warrants in the town of Mexico.

The searches, at two separate mobile homes, were part of an ongoing investigation of drug trafficking from Massachusetts to the Rumford-Mexico area.

Agents seized heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine that had been packaged for resale with a cumulative value of about $13,000. They also found scales and other trafficking materials.

The MDEA said that Jerry Philogene, 26, of Boston, Peguy Pacouloute, 27, of Mattapan, Massachusetts, and Travis Tidswell, 41, of Mexico were charged with aggravated trafficking in heroin and cocaine. They were being held without bail at the Oxford County Jail.

Derrell “Slim” Weathers, 28, of Boston, Joshua “Tiny” Campbell, 30, of Mexico and Glen Lane, 32, of Mexico were each charged with aggravated trafficking in heroin.

Bail was set at $40,000 for Weathers and $15,000 each for Lane and Campbell.

All six are expected to make their initial appearances Monday in Oxford County Superior Court.

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

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

]]> 0 TidswellFri, 28 Apr 2017 20:19:42 +0000
Trekker in Nepal rescued after 47 days Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:34:34 +0000 The Taiwanese hiker survived the ordeal but his girlfriend died three days before they were found.

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A Taiwanese trekker who was rescued after 47 days on a mountain in Nepal celebrated his 21st birthday at a hospital in the capital Friday.

A happy Liang Sheng-yueh cut chocolate cakes in his hospital room in Kathmandu, where hospital staff and a government minister sang “Happy Birthday.” His family members were expected to reach Nepal later Friday.

With a paper hat on his head, Liang joined his hands to thank the doctors and journalists who were at the birthday celebration. Doctors fed him pieces of cake.

“Thank you very much everyone for taking care of me,” Liang said. “I am sorry to make you worried. I hope that I can make contributions to society in the future and I will do my best to live up to my responsibilities.”

Dr. Chakra Raj Pandey said Liang is making good progress and was able to walk Friday with the help of physiotherapists.

Liang was rescued Wednesday, but his girlfriend died just three days before the two were discovered near a waterfall.

The doctor said Liang was happy to have survived but also sad about losing his girlfriend, 19-year-old Liu Chen-chun.

“She had lost hope of life the last week of her life. She was shouting, she was hopeless and she was in tremendous anxiety. It was impossible for her to survive,” Dr. Pandey quoted Liang as saying.

They were on a long trek on the Ganesh Himal trail, which is not as crowded as other popular routes, and were caught in a snowstorm in March and lost their way.

They appeared to have followed a river hoping to find a village, but slipped and fell over a waterfall. They landed on a ledge and were unable to climb up or down. The area is at an altitude of 8,520 feet.

They had no guides or porters and were carrying their own food, tent and sleeping bags. For the first two weeks they survived on food they had in their backpacks but after that they consumed only salt and water.

One of the rescuers, Dawa Tamang, said they were about13 miles from the nearest village.

]]> 0 Liang Sheng-yueh celebrates his birthday Friday at Grandee International Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Taiwanese man, who was rescued Wednesday after 47 days on a mountain in Nepal, marked his 21st birthday at the hospital in the capital.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:34:34 +0000
Maine catalog giant Dingley Press still growing in the digital age Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:30:14 +0000 In a strange twist, internet commerce is helping to create new business for some catalog printers, including a Maine company that is one of the industry’s largest.

More than 35 years after losing Freeport-based L.L. Bean as its only customer, The Dingley Press in Lisbon now prints nearly 350,000 catalogs a year for about 160 clients, including many online retailers that use printed words and images to drive consumers to their digital storefronts.

Business has been so good that Dingley, which employs about 350 workers, is in the process of a $17 million expansion to add a new press, robotics and other equipment.

“We’re at a point in our capacity utilization where we need new press capacity,” said Eric Lane, the company’s president.

Pressmen, left to right, Norm Begin, Kevin Sult and Armand Deschene work on a Goss printing press at The Dingley Press in Lisbon. The company has a new press under construction and expects it to be up and running by December. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

While overall demand for printed catalogs has declined over the past 15 years, there are still new customers entering the market, Lane said. Many of them are online-only retailers that send catalogs in the mail to attract new customers and foster relationships with existing ones.

“In order to reach prospects, to bring them to your website, you need a tool for that,” he said.

Dingley, a privately held company that does not disclose its annual revenue, is investing $13 million to install a new 48-page printing press inside its 268,000-square-foot facility in Lisbon. The company already operates four additional presses.

The new press is under construction and is expected to be up and running by December, Lane said.

Dingley is spending another $1 million on four large robotic arms that will lift and move heavy stacks of catalogs onto wooden pallets.

The final piece of new investment is $3 million to install an additional “co-mail line” inside the facility.

The cost of postage can be a significant barrier to companies that want their catalogs mailed directly to consumers. Therefore, catalog printers have developed strategies for bringing down postage costs to the bare minimum.


At Dingley, catalogs from all 160 clients are combined and sorted by destination on the co-mail lines before being bundled together on pallets for delivery, each to a specific post office. The company then delivers each pallet to the destination post office, which significantly reduces the cost of postage.

Martez Proctor works on a saddle stitcher at The Dingley Press in Lisbon on Wednesday. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“Nobody has to touch it at the post office until it gets to the mail carrier,” Lane said.

When all of the new equipment is installed, Dingley’s annual capacity will increase to about 400,000 catalogs per year, he said. The expansion will require additional staffing of 15 to 20 workers initially, with more added as business ramps up on the new press.

Dingley is currently the fifth-largest catalog printer in the United States, up from 15th in 2004, Lane said.

“The catalog printing industry has consolidated quite a bit since 2004,” he said.

Paul Miller, vice president and deputy director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Catalog Mailers Association, said Dingley is one of about a half-dozen major players in the U.S. catalog printing industry.

“They are a good, loyal member (of the trade organization), and an important player in the catalog field,” he said.

The catalog industry continues to contract as more retailers seek avenues outside of print to reach new and existing customers, Miller said, but the industry still produces 8,000 to 10,000 different titles each year, and new clients continue to enter the market.

One example is Wayfair LLC, a Boston-based online retailer that sells furniture, housewares and other items, he said. Although the company conducts sales exclusively online, it has embraced printed catalogs as a means of attracting customers’ attention.

“They have gotten into catalogs quite heavily,” Miller said.


The catalog industry underwent a significant shock in early 2007 when the U.S. Postal Service suddenly raised postage rates for catalogs by 20 percent. It nearly killed the medium entirely, he said.

The Dingley Press in Lisbon prints nearly 350,000 catalogs a year for about 160 clients, including many online retailers. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

But the industry has survived via strategies such as co-mailing, and by lobbying to ensure that such a dramatic rate hike doesn’t recur in the future.

“Fighting to keep catalog postage affordable – that’s what we’re all about,” Miller said of his organization.

The Dingley Press suffered its own shock in 1981 when its sole client, L.L. Bean, severed its relationship with the company, Lane said. L.L. Bean decided to migrate to a different printing process that Dingley could not accommodate with its equipment at the time.

Founded in 1928 in Lewiston, Dingley had been producing all of L.L. Bean’s catalogs since 1942. With no clients and an owner looking to shut down the operation, current company owner Chris Pierce offered to buy Dingley and then set about rebuilding the business from the ground up.

By 2004, Pierce had built Dingley into a $100 million enterprise, and he decided to sell the company to The Sheridan Group, a large commercial printing operation based in Maryland.

But in 2013, following the loss of another major client, Sheridan decided to sell the company, and Pierce realized he wanted it back.

“He does like the challenge,” Lane said of Pierce.

Lane noted that today, Dingley contributes significantly to Maine’s economy and its paper industry. In addition to its $13 million in annual payroll, the company buys about $10 million of paper each year from Maine paper mills, and it pays an additional $6 million to other Maine-based vendors.

Dave Burnham works on a SIM co-mailer at The Dingley Press. Catalogs from all of the company’s 160 clients are combined and sorted by destination on the co-mail lines before being bundled for delivery. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

“We get our paper from Maine paper mills as much as possible,” Lane said. “We are the closest shipping point for a lot of the mills in Maine.”

The role of the catalog in a retail operation has evolved significantly in recent years, Miller said As a result, the industry has suffered a bit of an identity crisis.

“The catalog used to be much more of a self-standing mechanism than it is today,” he said, whereas now it “serves as a springboard to get the customer to buy from that company.”

Still, there are things a catalog can do that an online advertisement cannot, Lane and Miller said. A catalog is delivered directly into the hands of its recipient, bringing information about new products along with more subtle cues about the seller’s style and brand.

“The catalog still carries the identity of the company, of the retailer,” Miller said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: jcraiganderson

]]> 0, LISBON, ME - APRIL 26: Pressmen work on a Goss printing press at The Dingley Press in Lisbon Wednesday, April 26, 2017. L to R, are Norm Begin, Kevin Sult and Armand Deschene. (Staff photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer). Below, LISBON, ME - APRIL 26: Eric Lane, president of The Dingley Press in Lisbon Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:18:00 +0000
Austrian president stirs controversy with headscarf remarks Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:06:59 +0000 Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has ignited debate in Europe after a video appeared to show him supporting a woman’s right to wear an Islamic headscarf – and suggesting that all women should wear a headscarf to battle prejudice against Muslims.

Speaking to students at the House of the European Union in Vienna on March 24, Van der Bellen said that it was his opinion that women had a right to dress however they want. “If Islamophobia continues to spread . . . the day will come when we will have to ask all women to wear headscarves,” he said, according to video footage of the event. “All of them. In solidarity with those who wear them for religious reasons.”

“This isn’t too far-fetched,” Van der Bellen continued, adding that he remembered a story about some non-Jewish Danes wearing the Star of David during the German occupation of Denmark in World War II.

Islamic veils are a controversial subject in Europe, where some argue that they hinder the integration of the continent’s growing Muslim population, while others argue that the focus on items of clothing like the hijab, niqab and burqa is prejudicial. Austria recently joined France and Belgium by implementing a nationwide ban on veils that obscure the face, like the niqab and the burqa, in public places.

Headscarves such as the hijab, which cover only the head and neck, are not subject to these restrictions in Austria. However, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz had proposed a ban on public servants wearing them in January.

Van der Bellen’s comments were little noticed last month, but came to prominence after they were included in a segment on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation which aired Tuesday.

The segment focused on the Austrian head of state’s first 100 days in office; Van der Bellen, a longtime representative of Austria’s Green Party who had run as an independent, entered office in January after winning a contentious election against right-wing Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer late last year.

There has been widespread debate about Van der Bellen’s remarks online, with some Austrian voters demanding that the president resign. The comments have also been widely reported on right-wing U.S. websites.

]]> 0 stage a demonstration against racism in Vienna, Austria, in March. Banner reads: "No to headscarf ban."Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:06:59 +0000
Group forms ‘Religious Left’ to fight the Right Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:06:36 +0000 When Linda Sarsour got involved in planning a massive Women’s March for the day after President Trump’s inauguration, she needed dozens of speakers to give brief remarks onstage. Sarsour, a Muslim activist, quickly found diverse and willing participants of faith, including a rabbi from California and a nun who travels the country.

All were women she had last seen in November at a gathering of a new network of eminent religious leaders. This little-known group – which includes 18 members, all of them prominent in religious organizations and highly active in national politics – is quietly seeking to bring together a “Religious Left” to counterbalance the decades-old Religious Right by supporting liberal politics with the imprimatur of faith.

Among the members: Valarie Kaur, a Sikh activist whose prayer for America video gained national attention last month after the shooting of a Sikh man in Washington; the Rev. William Barber II, whose stirring address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention set social media aflame; and Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first gay bishop, who gave a prayer during President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremonies.

“It’s sort of like getting the Martin Luther Kings, the Ghandis, the Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschels, the Dorothy Days, the Fannie Lou Hamers of our time together and creating a sense of community,” said the Rev. Katharine Henderson, the president of Auburn Seminary in New York.

The seminary – a bit of a misnomer, since it does not ordain any clergy nowadays, but does offer continuing education for faith leaders further in their careers – first convened the members of the network, whom it terms “senior fellows,” in 2015.

With funding from several philanthropic foundations, the senior fellows communicate year-round and meet in person twice a year. It is these meetings, the fellows put their heads together. Last month in Sedona, Arizona, much of the talk was about what each fellow’s congregants were doing to resist the Trump administration’s policies.

]]> 0 Fri, 28 Apr 2017 19:06:36 +0000
North Korea tests mid-range ballistic missile, which blows apart Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:37:35 +0000 TOKYO — North Korea fired another ballistic missile early Saturday morning but it exploded within seconds of being launched, American and South Korean defense officials said.

Coinciding with renewed diplomatic and military pressure on North Korea from the Trump administration, the launch underscores both Kim Jong Un’s determination to make technical progress on his weapons programs and his defiance of international pressure.

President Trump, who was briefed on the launch soon afterward, took to Twitter to reiterate his expectation that Chinese President Xi Jinping use his leverage to make Kim stop.

“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” he tweeted.

Trump has repeatedly called on China, North Korea’s neighbor and largest trading partner, to punish the regime in Pyongyang, and has warned Xi that if he doesn’t act, the United States will.

But Ralph Cossa, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Pacific Forum, said that the Trump administration appears to be struggling to figure out how to deal with North Korea.

“When it comes to foreign policy, and Korea policy in particular, the Trump administration has had a pretty steep learning curve, and it has been a lot more curves than learning,” Cossa said.


Saturday’s launch marked the 75th missile test since Kim Jong Un became leader of North Korea at the end of 2011, according to a Nuclear Threat Initiative database.

American and South Korean defense officials said that the unidentified missile appears to have exploded soon after being launched about 5 a.m. North Korea time.

“The missile did not leave North Korean territory,” U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said in a statement.

North Korea’s previous missile launch was on April 16, the day after a huge military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung. It also blew up almost immediately.

But analysts said not to be consoled.

“This test may have failed, but Kim Jong Un’s overall missile test record is 58 successful flight tests and 17 failures,” said Shea Cotton of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation, who compiled the Nuclear Threat Initiative database.

North Korea is clearly making progress and has the political will, if not the technology just yet, to improve its missile technology.


At this month’s military parade, North Korea presented two of its newest model missiles, including the submarine-launched ballistic type it successfully fired last year and the land-based version it launched last month.

Kim has repeatedly said that he wants an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the mainland United States, and although there are still plenty of technical hurdles, many analysts believe North Korea will eventually get there.

The latest launch comes amid heightened tensions in the region.

A U.S. Navy strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, will be in the waters around the Korean Peninsula this weekend, and one of the Navy’s largest submarines has been in port in South Korea this week.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday called for new economic sanctions on North Korea and other “painful” measures over its nuclear weapons program.

“Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences,” Tillerson said during a special session of the U.N. Security Council. “The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it.”

In its latest challenge to the United States, a North Korean propaganda outlet released a video clip this week showing simulated attacks on the United States and declaring that “the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights.”

]]> 0 Korean leader Kim Jong Un, waving during a military parade April 15 in Pyongyang, is showing determination to make technical progress on his weapons programs and defiance of international pressure.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 23:53:54 +0000
Pope urges Egypt’s imams to preach peace Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:25:42 +0000 Associated Press

CAIRO — Pope Francis urged Egypt’s leading imams on Friday to teach their students to reject violence in God’s name and preach messages of peace and tolerance instead, forging ahead with a delicate visit to the Arab world’s most populous country following a spate of deadly Islamic militant attacks against Christians.

Francis arrived to a subdued welcome and a heavy police presence at Cairo’s international airport. But he brushed off security concerns by driving into town with his windows rolled down in a simple blue Fiat – not the armored “popemobiles” of his predecessors.

Francis has said he wanted to bring a message of peace to Egypt, which has been enduring an increasingly emboldened insurgency led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.

In a speech to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi and diplomats from around the world, Francis strongly backed the Egyptian government’s crackdown against the militants, saying Egypt had a unique role to play in forging peace in the region and in “vanquishing all violence and terrorism.”

Francis’ major event of the day was a landmark visit to Cairo’s Al Azhar university, the revered, 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Islam learning that trains clerics and scholars from around the world.

There, he warmly embraced Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Al-Azhar’s grand imam who hosted the pope and other senior Muslim leaders, students and scholars at a peace conference. The conference center featured a mock-up of the famous Al-Azhar mosque, complete with faux windows and flooded with purple lights.

Speaking to the crowd, Francis recalled that Egypt’s ancient civilizations valued the quest for knowledge and open-minded education, and said a similar commitment to education is required today to combat the “barbarity” of religious extremism among the young.

While Al-Azhar has strongly condemned Islamic fundamentalism, Egypt’s pro-government media has accused its leadership of failing to do enough to reform the religious discourse in Islam and purge canonical books from outdated teachings and hatred for non-Muslims.

“As religious leaders, we are called to unmask violence that masquerades as purported sanctity,” Francis said to applause from the crowd. “Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God.”

“To counter effectively the barbarity of those who foment hatred with violence, we need to accompany young people, helping them on the path to maturity and teach them to respond to the incendiary logic of evil by patiently working for the growth of goodness,” he added.

El-Tayeb thanked Francis for what he called his “fair” comments against charges of terror and violence leveled against Muslims and Islam.

“We need to cleanse religions from wrong notions, false piety and fraudulent implementations which stoke conflicts and incite hatred and violence,” he said. “Islam is not a religion of terrorism because a minority from among its followers hijacked some of its texts” to shed blood and be provided by some with weapons and funds, he said to applause.

Francis too called for an end to the flow of weapons and money to militants, saying that “only by bringing into the light of day the murky maneuverings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented.”

In addition to Francis’ main message of repudiating religiously-inspired violence, the Friday-Saturday visit is also meant to lift the spirits of Egypt’s large Christian community after three suicide bombings since December – including deadly twin Palm Sunday church attacks – killed at least 75 people. Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility.

Egypt’s el-Sissi, a general-turned-president, declared a nationwide state of emergency after the attacks in a bid to better deal with the insurgency through wider police powers and swift trials.

Francis backed his stance, saying his repudiation of religiously inspired violence “merits attention and appreciation.”

]]> 0 Francis meets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Al-Azhar's grand imam, Friday in Cairo. He was in Egypt to present a united Christian-Muslim front against religiously inspired violence.Fri, 28 Apr 2017 18:25:42 +0000