News from January 28, 2014

January 29

Republicans focus on empowering Americans, not government

In the party's response to President Obama's speech, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers focuses heavily on her touching personal history.

January 28

Study finds divorce rate drops with economy

Fewer couples than expected split up from 2009 to 2011, coinciding with the recession.

January 29

Maine delegation likes middle-class focus

But concerns are raised about talk of bypassing Congress on issues and support for trade pacts.

January 28

Health care exchange call center workers sue for OT pay

The case potentially applies to thousands of employees, the plaintiffs say.

January 28

Maine House votes for new 'dental therapist' program

The profession could do limited work on teeth under the bill, aimed at improving access to dental care.

January 28

Hemp cultivation poised to go legit after decades-long ban

The latest federal farm bill agreement would allow farmers once again to grow marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.

January 28

Congress may repeal cut to military pensions

Curb in annual cost-of-living adjustments drew outrage from veterans groups.

January 28

Simple, complicated Seeger changed American music Several photos included in this story

From the beginning, everything about Seeger’s background seemed to point him toward his destiny.

January 29

Obama flexes presidential powers in State of the Union

'America does not stand still and neither do I,' he tells a gridlocked Congress.

January 28

‘Zombie’ bee infestation arrives in Vermont

It’s the first report in the eastern U.S. of a parasitic fly linked to neurological damage that results in erratic movements and night activity among bees.

January 28

College athletes take steps toward forming a union

For now, the push extends only to private schools, and comes at a time when the NCAA is fighting a lawsuit by ex-players seeking a share of the pie.

January 28

Officer shoots runaway in wrist at Hawaii high school

The 17-year-old boy, a former student, cuts one officer with an knife and hits two others before he’s shot.

January 28

Maine man faces drunken-driving, speeding charges

Daniel Lajoie tried to hide in a store vestibule in Naples, police say.

January 28

Proposed 10¢ fee for plastic shopping bags advances in Portland

A working group’s endorsement sends the measure to a City Council subcommittee for review.

January 28

George Mitchell tells Maine legislators: Work together Several photos included in this story

At the unveiling of his official portrait at the Maine State House, the former U.S. senator praises the power of listening.

January 28

N.H. lawmakers back bill to legalize two casinos

Senators on a panel give the measure their support, but the House has repeatedly rejected casino legislation, so its future isn’t assured.

January 28

Who I Met, with Greta Rybus: Paul Kane, owner of sports card trading shop

The owner of Don’s Sports Card Center on Brighton Avenue in Portland gives a tour of his shop and talks about the important things – in card collecting, and in life. Meet Paul at MaineToday.com

January 28

Poll: Most Americans support nuclear deal with Iran

Still, many of them don’t believe the plan will ultimately work.

January 28

More airmen implicated in Air Force’s nuclear cheating probe

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the airmen were themselves involved in the proficiency test cheating, or just didn't report their colleagues.

January 28

Maine home heating fuel prices soar

Heating fuel prices are higher this week than they were at any time last year.

January 28

Maine House backs bill to license dental hygiene therapists

The new category of dental worker would be able to do procedures like fill cavities and pull teeth.

January 29

Scarborough man in oxycodone ring gets nine years

Adam Goodwin is the third man sentenced in the case, including a former Portland podiatrist who wrote fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone.

January 28

MLB OKs protective cap for pitchers

Players can voluntarily test the hat with safety plates sewn in during spring training.

January 28

Commission: Ex-Portland worker likely was sexually harassed

David Tanguay can move forward with his sexual harassment case against the city.

January 28

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss freed after 2 trials

Joseph ‘Uncle Joe’ Ligambi had been in prison since 2011. His alleged underboss, enforcer and others were convicted last year.

January 28

Boston dealing with spike in homicides

Authorities say most of the recent slayings appear to be gang-related and retaliatory in nature.

January 28

Gardiner man indicted in December shooting of woman

A grand jury charges Sean Kingston with aggravated assault after he allegedly shot the woman inside her Costello Road home.

January 28

Maine man pleads not guilty in stabbing death

The defense attorney for Courtney D. Shea of Vassalboro is seeking police reports concerning the victim, Thomas Namer.

January 28

British royals uged to cut costs, boost income

Legislators on a House of Commons committee urge them to adopt a more commercial approach and open up Buckingham Palace to visitors more often.

January 29

Maine’s December jobless rate falls to 6.2 percent

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 44,300 Mainers were unemployed, down 6,500 over the year.

January 28

DNA shows ancient hunter had blue eyes, dark skin

The combination, which is sometimes seen in people with mixed European and African ancestry, may once have been common among ancient European hunter-gatherers.

January 28

States consider reviving old-fashioned executions like electrocutions, gas chamber Several photos included in this story

Those that carry on with executions find them increasingly difficult to conduct because of the scarcity of lethal-injection drugs and doubts about how well they work.

January 28

Missing Vermont boy found after Amber Alert issued

Authorities say they found 12-year-old Zachary Lee late Monday night at a hotel in Lyme, N.H.

January 28

Tough drug-testing net in place for Sochi Olympics

International Olympic and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history.

January 28

Obama hiking minimum pay for new federal contracts

The president will sign an executive order increasing the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour from $7.25.

January 28

Ousted Egypt leader shouts inside cage at trial

Authorities apparently resorted to a glass-encased cage to muffle the defendants’ outbursts, which disrupted a previous hearing.

January 28

Toddlers love selfies: Parenting in an iPhone age Several photos included in this story

Entrepreneurs have caught on to these image-obsessed tots, marketing special apps that make taking photos super-easy for little fingers.

January 28

UMaine-Farmington expanding free dorm room program

The program will be expanded to all high school seniors from Franklin County this year.

January 29

Portland police say shooting wasn't a random act

But they would not say if they have a suspect in the early morning shooting near a Hampshire Street tavern.

January 28

Legendary folk singer, activist Pete Seeger dies in N.Y. Several photos included in this story Video clip included

The banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and presidents dies at the age of 94.

January 29

Angus King fights new Iran sanctions Video clip included

Adding penalties, as some favor, would undercut rare talks aimed at reducing the nuclear threat, he says.

January 28

Chef brings mix of Maine, Mexico to culinary landmark

Shannon Bard, co-owner of Zapoteca in Portland, shines at the celebrated James Beard House in Greenwich Village.

January 28

Florida court OKs medical marijuana for ballot

The question will go before voters in November.

January 28

Hate the cold? It bugs Maine insects, too

Scientists say the extreme weather will keep pests like ticks and moths in check and may reduce infestations.

January 28

Portland officials to see new Thompson’s Point master plan

The $110 million plans call for redeveloping the site into a business, arts, sports and transportation complex.

January 28

Maine may hire more inspectors after reports of abuse at Lyman day care

Also, a legislative committee will consider tightening regulations to improve oversight.

January 28

Westbrook gives early approval to rezoning land

The City Council’s preliminary vote allows for residents to weigh in at a hearing in two weeks.

January 28

Local & State Dispatches

Two men charged with OUI after sleds land in water / Woman killed, man injured in head-on crash / Police say medical condition likely led to toll plaza crash ... and more news from around the state.

January 28

Maine bill aims to protect franchise owners

L.D. 1458 seeks to offer added protections to franchisees of many companies.

January 28

State of the Union to focus on what’s achievable for Obama

The president is expected to deliver change to believe in via his use of executive powers.

January 28

Margaret Chase Smith’s presidential run hailed as a milestone for women in politics

The senator from Maine announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination 50 years ago.

January 28

Signs of new life for Portland's Kotzschmar Organ Several photos included in this story

Its golden pipes are back in place and the next season is on the horizon as two years of repairs continue.

January 28

Unitil requests unusual midwinter rate hike for Mainers

Regulators will decide soon whether to allow the 10% jump, which the company blames on extreme cold and high demand.

January 28

In State of the Union, ideas to close income gap relevant for Mainers

Obama is likely to focus on the disparity, which is growing in Maine, but not as big as in other areas.

January 29

Maine panel wary of boosting power of state ombudsman in document fights

A Maine coalition says it had limited options in two cases where government officials stalled the release of public records.

January 27

Football betting more popular than ever in Vegas

Fans bet an unprecedented $99 million on the Super Bowl last year, and expects to break the record again Sunday, barring a snowstorm.