The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » News http://www.pressherald.com Wed, 31 Aug 2016 02:20:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.5 Politicians who held office in Waterville with governor say he’s outspoke, but not racist http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/politicians-who-held-office-in-waterville-with-governor-say-hes-outspoke-but-not-racist/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/politicians-who-held-office-in-waterville-with-governor-say-hes-outspoke-but-not-racist/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 02:04:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/politicians-who-held-office-in-waterville-with-governor-say-hes-outspoke-but-not-racist/ WATERVILLE — Three Democrats and a Republican who were Waterville officials when Paul LePage held office there described the governor Tuesday as outspoken and opinionated, but not racist.

LePage has sparked controversy since he told a North Berwick audience last week that more than 90 percent of the drug dealers arrested in Maine this year are black or Hispanic. He has reiterated that argument several times since, and left a profanity-laced voice mail on the cell phone of Democratic legislator from Westbrook who criticized the governor’s racially charged comments.

LePage was mayor of Waterville from 2004 to 2010 and was on the City Council for two terms before that.

Waterville lawyer David Geller, a Republican who served on the city’s Charter Commission when LePage was a city councilor and mayor, said LePage was “a really good guy.” Geller was the only Waterville Republican to comment Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s very smart and I was in the Rotary Club with him, and I never saw a red flag of him being racist,” Geller said. “He says things that definitely – appropriately – make people upset. I don’t think that he’s saying the things about the drug epidemic for any other reason than trying to address the drug epidemic.”

City Democrats who worked with LePage said he had strong opinions.

“Frankly, I don’t expect Paul to resign. I just think he’s too strong-headed and stubborn to do anything like that,” Democratic City Council Chairman John O’Donnell said. “I think he’s convinced he’s right and everyone else is wrong.”

O’Donnell, who was a councilor for several years when LePage was mayor, knows him well and says he likes him. LePage adopted and raised a black child, and O’Donnell said he doesn’t think the governor is a “full-blooded racist.”

“But certainly his comments regarding drugs coming into Maine have racial overtones,” he said.

Dana Sennett, a Democratic former council chairman and mayor, said he thinks LePage is speaking out of frustration with the drug problem in Maine.

“He’s speaking out in vulgarities and he’s not thinking about what he’s saying,” Sennett said. “I don’t think Paul’s a racist. I think he was trying to make reference to the fact that people of color were being arrested on drug charges. However, I don’t think he’s reviewed the facts. I just feel he’s bringing attention – that we have a drug problem, that these people were standing out because of color.”

Sennett says he does not think LePage should resign.

“I think he should be censured. I think that would be the appropriate thing to do and be advised by the full Legislature that this type of language and actions won’t be tolerated on the state level,” Sennett said.

Sennett said he worked well with LePage, and that the governor probably has some good ideas.

“But he’s proven he’s not an effective leader,” he said. “I think he means well, but he doesn’t play well in the sand box.”

Former council chairman Fred Stubbert, also a Democrat, also said he does not think LePage is racist.

“Paul is French Canadian and has been looked down on in Maine ever since he was a kid, so he knows what this is about,” Stubbert said. “I do not believe he is a racist, but my feeling is that the pressure is kind of getting to him.”

Stubbert says he does not think LePage should resign.

“I think he may need some help, though. He needs to calm down a bit,” Stubbert said. “I’m a Democrat and I’ve been in Maine most of my life. When I was a young kid, Maine was a Republican state. … I think it’s healthy to have an active two-party system in Maine and I think that’s why Paul should stay on as governor until his term is over.”

Stubbert said he worked well with LePage, and that the governor has many friends who are Democrats.

“I have a great deal of respect for Paul,” he said. “Paul’s a very bright man. A lot of times he says things to get attention and make his point. He’s a very opinionated person, and sometimes the facts are not what people want to hear.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

acalder@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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Crowd at Augusta rally calls for LePage to resign or get help http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crowd-at-augusta-rally-calls-for-lepage-to-resign-or-get-help/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crowd-at-augusta-rally-calls-for-lepage-to-resign-or-get-help/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:59:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crowd-at-augusta-rally-calls-for-lepage-to-resign-or-get-help/ AUGUSTA — Several hundred people took to Capitol Park on Tuesday evening to ask Gov. Paul LePage to resign, or at least get the help they said he needs to avoid making more of what they described as racist, threatening and homophobic outbursts.

Prompted by recent statements in which LePage said most opiate drug dealers in Maine are people of color or Hispanic, and an obscenity-filled voicemail he left for a state legislator from Westbrook, organizers and participants of the Save Our State (from LePage) Rally said the governor should resign or get help to control himself.

“Paul, you are our brother, and you need help. Get it,” said Leslie Manning of Bath, to cheers. “As our governor, you’ve irrevocably broken the compact between us. You must leave. Now.”

Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland chapter of the NAACP, said the people of Maine are in pain and need the governor to get help and step aside. She said she is a ninth-generation Mainer of African-American descent.

“Goodbye, Paul,” she said, which prompted that chant from the crowd.

Participants, at the conclusion to the rally, joined hands in a circle that extended to nearly all four sides of Capitol Park, in what organizer, lobbyist and Hallowell therapist Betsy Sweet described as a circle of healing. Sweet urged people to write to the Legislature, to LePage and to newspapers to say how they feel about LePage.

She asked participants to turn to toward the Blaine House, LePage’s residence, which is diagonally across the street from the park, to ask LePage and others in government leadership to come together to do the right thing to save Maine from disaster.

Signs at the rally included those saying “Time to Turn The Page on LePage,” “Insane in the Blaine,” “Showing up for Racial Justice,” “Your Words Hurt People,” “Impeach LePage,” “Resign!” “Enough!” “Impeach the Bully,” and repeating an obscenity LePage left on a voicemail for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, last week.

Rally participants were joined by at least a half-dozen sign-carrying supporters of LePage, one of whom engaged in multiple heated discussions with participants in the rally. Other LePage supporters, such as David Merrill and Connie Smith of Farmingdale, didn’t engage in arguments with participants.

“I’m just going to stand here and be peaceful, I’m here to show support for Governor LePage” said Merrill, who wore a T-shirt with “Support Gov. LePage” written on it, and carried a “Trump: Make America Great Again,” banner.

“What (LePage) said wasn’t nice. But everyone is human. He deserves to be forgiven,” said Merrill.

Deqa Dhalac said she is a black woman, an immigrant and a Muslim, and said all those identities have been attacked by the governor. She said that as the mother of two sons and a daughter, she fears for their lives every day, and LePage’s statements about people of color dealing drugs and being the enemy make it more likely they could be attacked.

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EpiPen maker’s tax-reduction moves take spotlight http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/epipen-makers-tax-reduction-moves-take-spotlight/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/epipen-makers-tax-reduction-moves-take-spotlight/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:30:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/epipen-makers-tax-reduction-moves-take-spotlight/ Years before it attracted nationwide criticism for drastically hiking the price of the EpiPen, pharmaceutical giant Mylan faced a quandary.

The company had merged with another in 2014 that allowed it to move its headquarters from Pennsylvania to the Netherlands through a so-called inversion that would significantly lower its tax rate. But as part of the deal, Mylan’s executives would be hit with a hefty tax bill for company stock they had received as part of their compensation packages.

To avoid the tax headaches for its top executives, Mylan accelerated $32.5 million in executive compensation for its leadership team and then reimbursed them for $20.5 million in taxes, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The company’s chief executive, Heather Bresch, and chairman, Robert Coury, both received about $10 million ahead of schedule. The company covered $5.3 million in taxes for Bresch and $3.8 million for Coury, according to the company’s SEC filings.

The maneuver would “maintain proper incentives” so the executives would remain with the company, Mylan said at the time. Not covering the tax bill would “deprive them of a substantial portion of the value of the equity-based awards that they hold, when they were critically important to Mylan’s past success and in negotiating this transformative opportunity for Mylan.”

The strategy was just one of many steps Mylan has taken in recent years as it has pushed its tax rate to new lows. Since moving its headquarters to the Netherlands, its overall tax rate has fallen from 16 percent in 2014 to 7 percent last year, according to the SEC filing. The company has also been able to push down how much it pays in U.S. taxes, tax experts say.

“There is no doubt, that they are aggressively managing their tax situations,” said Robert Willens, an independent tax expert. Their U.S. tax rate “is close to zero, a very, very low rate,” said Willens.

Mylan’s tax strategies have come under renewed scrutiny since it raised the price of the lifesaving allergy injection EpiPen 2-Pak from about $94 in 2007 to $609 this year. That has brought public recriminations from lawmakers, who complain the company is price gouging. Mylan has struggled to contain the controversy. Last week, it said it would create a drug coupon program to save consumers money and on Monday it said it would introduce a generic version of injection.

MOVE CALLED STRATEGIC

In 2014, Mylan acquired parts of Abbott Laboratories’ generic-drugs business for more than $5 billion. That allowed it to move its headquarters to the Netherlands where the corporate tax rate is 20 percent, compared with the statutory rate of 35 percent in the United States.

The company has defended the move as strategic, noting it would prevent Mylan from being purchased by a foreign company. “What’s patriotic is making this country a place that allows you to thrive, grow your industry versus handcuffing you and making you a sitting target” to be acquired, Bresch, the company’s chief executive, said to Bloomberg in November 2014.

The company was started in 1961 by two Army buddies in West Virginia, who sold products to “doctors and pharmacists from an old Pontiac Bonneville,” according to the company’s website. It is now one of the world’s largest generic drug companies with thousands of employees around the globe. Over the last few years, it has found ways to push down its effective tax rate, including through research tax credits, according to the company’s SEC filings.

TAX AVOIDANCE MANEUVERS

Lawmakers have long been frustrated by corporate tax avoidance maneuvers and passed legislation in 2004 to make it a more costly choice for corporate executives. Executives at companies that move their headquarters overseas through an inversion now face a 15 percent excise tax on the stock or stock options they have been awarded as part of their compensation packages.

Mylan is just the latest company to face criticism for its tax strategies. The Obama administration has taken repeated steps to make inversions less profitable, including establishing rules that were credited with dashing Pfizer’s deal to merge with Botox maker Allergen and move its headquarters to Ireland.

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Bountiful black bear harvest seen for northern New England http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bountiful-black-bear-harvest-seen-for-northern-new-england/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bountiful-black-bear-harvest-seen-for-northern-new-england/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:19:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bountiful-black-bear-harvest-seen-for-northern-new-england/ The black bear population in northern New England is growing, and wildlife managers say this year’s hunt for the animals is especially important to control it.

Confrontations between people and bears generally increase during dry summers like the one this year. Dry weather reduces the amount of natural food, such as wild berries, and draws bears closer to humans’ homes as they search bird feeders and garbage cans for food.

The bear hunt is underway in Maine, where more than 600 people have complained of bear encounters this year – the most since 2012. The state is hoping for more participation in this year’s hunting season to help slow the growth of the bear population, said Jennifer Vashon, a bear biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

“We’re trying to encourage deer hunters that when they are scouting for deer, they have the opportunity to take a bear,” she said. “We expect the harvest to be pretty high.”

Maine has about 36,000 bears, up from 30,000 five years ago, Vashon said. Hunters typically harvest about 3,000 bears per year, but the state would prefer 4,000, she said.

David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, said bears will likely travel far looking for food this autumn, making them easier to harvest. A youth bear hunt on Saturday allowed the state’s youngest hunters to get the first crack at killing the animals this year.

Vermont and New Hampshire have fall bear hunts that start on Thursday, and authorities in those states also have encouraged more hunting to help stabilize the population.

New Hampshire’s bear population is about 6,000 and has grown modestly over the past decade, the state’s fish and game department has said.

Vermont’s population is within the upper limit of the state’s goal of 4,500-6,000 bears, officials said.

New Hampshire wants to reduce its population by 30 percent during the next 10 years, said Andrew Timmins, bear project leader with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

“We do need to start reducing bear density in select areas, but I believe we can successfully accomplish that with our current population of bear hunters,” Timmins said.

Attempts to manage the bear population with more hunting have spurred criticism and calls by some wildlife advocates and environmentalists to change laws.

Daryl DeJoy of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine said his state has encouraged encounters between bears and people by allowing hunters to use junk food, such as doughnuts, as bait. He and other have argued that practice habituates bears to human smells and human food.

“If you’re serious about managing wildlife populations, and you’re a scientist, your answer should be something more than, ‘Let’s just shoot more of them,’ ” DeJoy said.

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Maine House Republicans stand by LePage as latest controversy unfolds http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/maine-house-republicans-stand-by-lepage-as-latest-controversy-unfolds/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/maine-house-republicans-stand-by-lepage-as-latest-controversy-unfolds/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:15:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/maine-house-republicans-stand-by-lepage-as-latest-controversy-unfolds/ AUGUSTA — The Republican minority caucus in the Maine House decided they would stand by Republican Gov. Paul LePage Tuesday following a more than two-hour private meeting where they discussed recent racially charged comments LePage has made at series of public meetings and an obscentity-laced voice mail the governor left for a Democratic lawmaker last week.

Following the caucus meeting, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said it would be up to LePage if he wanted to apologize to people of color for comments he’s made indicating the majority of recent heroin-trafficking arrests in Maine have been committed by blacks and Hispanics.

Republicans were wrestling with what the next steps should be as they look to address recent controversial comments by the governor, including the voicemail message left for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook. Gattine is set to meet with LePage on Wednesday morning but the agenda for the meeting remains unclear.

“Gov. LePage has acknowledged he is sorry, we have condemned his words for what he said he needs to continue to work on that, but as House Republicans we are going to go out there and start talking about the issues and start talking to the voters because we believe that’s whats important, we are not coming back in for a special session to talk about this.”

Fredette did not clarify what specifically LePage had to do to regain the trust of his fellow Republicans in the House. Fredette said at a minimum LePage “clearly understands what he did was wrong.”

“He needs to apologize and that needs to be sincere and that needs to be meaningful and he needs to understand in his heart that what he did was wrong,” Fredette said. “This isn’t another blip by Paul LePage that he made a statement and we want to move on about it, that’s not what this is about.”

Some Senate Republicans have said they want a substantial “corrective action” for LePage, while Democrats, in the majority in the House, and minority in the Senate, continue to call for LePage to step down after he said he wished it was 1825 so he and Gattine could engage in a duel with pistols. LePage’s remarks came after he left Gattine the voice message and raged at reporters asking about LePage’s comments at a town hall meeting in North Berwick and about a three-ring binder of news clippings and booking mugshots of drug trafficking suspects that LePage said he maintained and was predominantly made up of blacks and Hispanics.

While some Republicans, including Sen. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, were calling for the Legislature to meet in special session to vote on admonishing LePage in an official censure, others were taking a measured approach to their reactions.

Now holding 69 seats in the House, Republicans would like to be focusing on increasing their numbers in the House come November, but instead and just ahead of the Labor Day weekend, the unofficial start of the fall political campaign season, they were dealing with the latest and what many consider to be the most damaging in a long string of their governor’s many controversial missteps and statements.

LePage sounded contrite Tuesday morning when he told Bangor radio station WVOM talk show hosts Ric Tyler and George Hale, “I’m looking at all options. … I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”

This story will be updated.

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Singer Chris Brown arrested after hours-long standoff http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/singer-chris-brown-arrested-hours-long-standoff/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/singer-chris-brown-arrested-hours-long-standoff/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 01:13:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1037484
LOS ANGELES — Police arrested singer Chris Brown on Tuesday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after a woman called hours earlier from outside his Los Angeles home and said she needed help.
The arrest followed an hours-long standoff and lengthy search of Brown’s home after police produced a search warrant.

Baylee Curran told the Los Angeles Times that Brown had pointed a gun at her face in his home early Tuesday. She said Brown and another man at his home became angry with her when she admired the man’s diamond necklace.

Curran said she and her friend ran outside as one of Brown’s associates gave chase and hid under a neighbor’s SUV.

She hasn’t responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Earlier, Brown sent messages via social media proclaiming his innocence and rebuffing reports that he had barricaded himself in his home.

“I don’t care. Y’all gonna stop playing with me like I’m the villain out here, like I’m going crazy,” he said in one Instagram video Tuesday, waving a cigarette and looking at the camera. “When you get the warrant or whatever you need to do, you’re going to walk right up in here and you’re going to see nothing. You idiots.”

Officers first responded to his hilltop estate around 3 a.m. Tuesday after a woman called for help from outside the residence. Police Lt. Chris Ramirez did not identify the woman or elaborate on the assistance she needed. He did not know if she was injured.

Brown’s attorney, Mark Geragos, arrived at the house shortly before police served the search warrant. Geragos has not responded to AP’s request for comment.

Brown has been in repeated legal trouble since his felony conviction in the 2009 assault of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.

After several missteps, Brown completed his probation in that case last year.

In 2013, Brown struck a man outside a Washington, D.C., hotel and was charged with misdemeanor assault. The singer was ordered into rehab but was dismissed from the facility for violating its rules.

He spent 2½ months in custody, with U.S. marshals shuttling him between Los Angeles and the nation’s capital for court hearings.

In another incident while in treatment, Brown was accused of throwing a brick at his mother’s car following a counseling session. It came after Brown had completed court-ordered anger management classes.

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Winslow woman injured, her puppy killed, in attack by 3 pit bulls http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/winslow-woman-injured-her-puppy-killed-in-attack-by-3-pit-bulls/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/winslow-woman-injured-her-puppy-killed-in-attack-by-3-pit-bulls/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:59:56 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/winslow-woman-injured-her-puppy-killed-in-attack-by-3-pit-bulls/ WINSLOW — A woman was injured and her puppy killed Tuesday when they were attacked by three neighborhood pit bulls, and her family is pressing charges against the dogs’ owner and wants the animals euthanized.

The three dogs broke past or jumped a fence and escaped from their backyard on Lucille Avenue, where they attacked the 10-month-old Boston terrier, ripping it from Sharron Carey’s arms when she picked it up in an attempt to save it.

Carey, 60, of Winslow, was taken to Inland Hospital in Waterville for treatment of wounds to her hands, legs and back. Her husband, Bill Carey, said Tuesday evening she was home and “very sedated.”

“She was a complete wreck,” he said. “All three dogs basically grabbed (the Boston terrier) and basically rag-dolled it, ripped it and killed it. It was horrible.”

Carey, whose voice shook with anger at times during the telephone interview, said: “I feel bad for my wife. She’s just about 100 pounds soaking wet and she walks her dog there every day. She had three full-grown pit bulls come and attack her, bite her and kill her dog right in front of her. It was a horrific scene.”

In June, a pit bull killed a 7-year-old Bangor boy who was playing in its owner’s yard in Corinna. A pit bull isn’t a breed, but a term for a variety of terrier.

On Tuesday, Sharron Carey was walking the Boston terrier, Fergie Rose, around noon on a route she took every day, when the dogs attacked, her husband said in an account similar to one in a news release from Lt. Josh Veilleux of the Winslow Police Department.

After the dogs jumped the fence, Carey said, his wife picked up Fergie Rose, but the dogs continued the attack.

“(The dogs) actually ripped her dog out of her arms and knocked her down,” he said. “They killed (Fergie Rose). We are pressing charges against the owner and we want the dogs put down. It was an unprovoked attack.”

The news release said there were two dogs, but a neighbor who saw the incident – as well as Bill Carey – said three dogs attacked. The neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, took Fergie Rose to Garland Small Animal Hospital, where it died.

Bill Carey – and the police – said several people tried to help his wife and their dog. He said they tried to beat the dogs away with sticks.

The pit bulls’ owner, Danielle Jones, also tried to get the dogs away. Police said she ran out of her house when she heard Sharron Carey screaming.

Jones is co-owner of The Muddy Paw, a grooming spa and self-service dog wash in Winslow, according to the business’s Facebook page. A message left at the business Tuesday evening was not returned immediately.

Carey said a nearby surveillance camera captured the attack on video and he hopes police will release it to the public.

Winslow Animal Control Officer Chris Martinez took the dogs to the Waterville Humane Society, where they were in quarantine Tuesday afternoon.

Carey said Fergie Rose is a hero who died protecting her owner. “She died protecting my wife,” he said. “Those dogs were intent on killing something.”

Martinez said he couldn’t comment further Tuesday afternoon on the attack, and police said no more information would be available on Tuesday. The news release said the investigation is continuing.

On June 4 in Corinna, Hunter Bragg, 7, died of “blunt and sharp force injuries” to his head and neck after an attack by a pit bull, according to the state medical examiner’s report.

The investigation into that attack is continuing, and officials involved haven’t commented on reports – including a reference on the dog bite report by the town’s animal control officer – that the dog previously had attacked other dogs.

The dog in that attack was euthanized at the request of its owner, Gary Merchant Jr., who lived at the Moody’s Mill Road home in Corinna and reportedly was given the dog by his daughter, who lives in Vermont, because it had attacked her dogs.

Staff writer Madeline St. Amour contributed to this report.

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Thousands more migrants rescued, Italian coast guard reports http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/thousands-more-migrants-rescued-italian-coast-guard-reports/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/thousands-more-migrants-rescued-italian-coast-guard-reports/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:50:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/thousands-more-migrants-rescued-italian-coast-guard-reports/ ROME — About 3,000 migrants were picked up Tuesday from the central Mediterranean, the Italian coast guard said, raising to around 10,000 the rescue tally over the past 48 hours.

There were 30 interventions carried out by Italian coast guard and navy vessels, the European Union’s anti-migrant smuggling mission Eunavfor Med and the bloc’s border agency Frontex, the Guardia Costiera said.

A day earlier, the coast guard coordinated 35 rescue missions, intercepting 44 dinghies, eight small wooden boats, one ship with 200 aboard and another carrying 704 people, the International Organization for Migration, or IOM, told dpa.

The total number of rescued was 6,900.

“Nearly 7,000 people in a day is really quite a lot. If it’s not a record, then it’s close to it,” said Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesman in Rome.

Di Giacomo said two bodies were recovered, but the cause of death was not yet known. The remains were due to be taken Wednesday to the southern port of Brindisi, along with 720 survivors, the local mayor said, as quoted by the ANSA news agency.

The Italian navy and coast guard, and British, Irish and Norwegian vessels, as well as a ship run by the charity Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, were involved in Monday’s operations, IOM said.

A woman gave birth immediately after being rescued, the Guardia Costiera wrote on Twitter, while the navy, or Marina Militare, said another woman asked for her 3-month-old girl to be baptized by the Catholic chaplain onboard.

In a separate statement, MSF doctor Antonia Zemp said her organization’s ship, Dignity I, picked up “twins who were premature babies delivered at eight months and were five days old.”

They were moved along with their mother to a boat that could quickly take them onshore to Italy, because “one of the boys was not well. He was vomiting, had hypothermia and was nonreactive,” Zemp said.

Prior to Monday’s rescues, August had been a relatively slow month for sea migrant arrivals, with about 12,600 compared to 23,500 during August 2015, IOM data showed. “Abnormally windy” sea conditions may have kept some boats from leaving North Africa, Di Giacomo said.

Since border controls were tightened earlier this year along the so-called Balkan route, connecting Turkey to Austria, Italy has replaced Greece as the main entry point for Europe-bound migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

The IOM calculated that 163,000 people arrived in Greece since the start of the year, compared with 234,000 in the same period of 2015.

In Italy there were 111,500 arrivals since January 1, compared to 116,000 from January to August of last year, the Geneva-based body said. Tuesday’s rescues are not counted in the estimates.

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Pilot’s training raised ‘red flags’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/pilots-training-raised-red-flags/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/pilots-training-raised-red-flags/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:49:47 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/pilots-training-raised-red-flags/ WASHINGTON — The German pilot who deliberately flew his airliner into a mountainside last year had struggled with learning to fly and had failed a key test of his skills during training in the U.S., according to FBI interviews with his flight instructors.

Andreas Lubitz was promoted anyway. But his training difficulties were one more “red flag” that should have caused Lufthansa and the airline’s Arizona flight school to take a closer look and discover his history of depression, asserted attorneys representing families of crash victims.

Lubitz was a co-pilot for Germanwings, a regional airline owned by Lufthansa, when he locked Flight 9524’s captain out of the cockpit and set the plane on a collision course with a mountain in the French Alps last year. All 144 passengers and six crew members, including Lubitz, were killed.

One instructor described Lubitz as “not an ace pilot,” and said he failed one flight test because of a “situational awareness issue.” In aviation, loss of situational awareness usually means a pilot becomes absorbed in something and loses track of what else is happening with the plane.

Another instructor said that Lubitz lacked “procedural knowledge” and had trouble with splitting his attention between instruments inside the plane and watching what was happening outside. But while Lubitz struggled with training, he would achieve passing scores.

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Jail term for former Stanford swimmer’s rape attempt gets even shorter http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jail-term-for-former-stanford-swimmers-rape-attempt-gets-even-shorter/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jail-term-for-former-stanford-swimmers-rape-attempt-gets-even-shorter/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2016 00:00:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jail-term-for-former-stanford-swimmers-rape-attempt-gets-even-shorter/ Former Stanford University student Brock Turner, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman and sentenced to six months in jail – a penalty criticized for its leniency – is scheduled to be released from jail Friday, according to public records.

If released this week from the Santa Clara County jail, Turner will have completed half the jail term imposed by Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who faces a recall campaign over his handling of Turner’s case.

Early releases are commonly given because of good behavior and because of California’s prison realignment. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 13,500 inmates were being released early each month to relieve crowding in local jails.

Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person. Turner attacked an unconscious woman behind a garbage bin on the Palo Alto university’s campus in January 2015.

At his sentencing, the Ohio native faced up to 14 years in prison. Prosecutors sought a six-year prison term.

Persky opted for the lighter jail term and also sentenced Turner to three years of probation. At the time, he said a lengthier penalty would have a “severe impact” on Turner.

Public criticism of the sentence escalated when the unidentified victim’s 12-page, single-spaced letter that she read aloud in court went viral after it was published by the media. She excoriated the judge for giving Turner “a soft time-out, a mockery of the (seriousness) of the assaults.”

“The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly. We should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error,” she wrote. “The consequences of sexual assault need to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.”

Persky, who was appointed to the bench by then-California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, voluntarily moved to civil court, officials announced last week. The judge had recently recused himself from a case in which he was set to decide whether to reduce the conviction of a plumber for possession of child pornography from a felony to a misdemeanor.

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Potential investor pulls out, leaving pro hockey’s future uncertain in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/potential-investor-pulls-out-leaving-pro-hockeys-future-uncertain-in-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/potential-investor-pulls-out-leaving-pro-hockeys-future-uncertain-in-portland/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 23:55:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/potential-investor-pulls-out-leaving-pro-hockeys-future-uncertain-in-portland/ Portland is unlikely to meet the deadline to apply for an East Coast Hockey League expansion franchise for the 2017-18 season after an investor identified as a potential financier pulled out of the deal.

Godfrey Wood, who has been heading an effort to bring minor league hockey back to Portland, said in July that he had found an out-of-state investor willing to put up most or all of the $750,000 needed for an ECHL expansion franchise fee. On Tuesday, however, Wood said that after meeting with the unnamed investor “three or four times,” the investor opted not to proceed.

But buying an existing franchise and relocating it to Portland by the fall of 2017 remains a possibility, according to Wood, who said he has spoken with other potential investors.

The ECHL board of governors plans to meet at the end of September to, among other things, consider applications for expanding the league to 30 teams. Parties in Reno, Nevada, and Jacksonville, Florida, have expressed interest.

“We have not received any application from any group representing Portland,” said Joe Babik, director of communications for the league. “If something were to happen, it would have to happen pretty quickly.”

POSSIBLE PURCHASE OF EXISTING FRANCHISE

Wood was instrumental in landing the Portland Pirates, an American Hockey League franchise that relocated from Baltimore to Portland in 1993. He is executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland and former head of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In May, owner Ron Cain sold the Pirates to a group that moved the franchise to Springfield, Massachusetts. The Pirates’ departure leaves Cross Insurance Arena without a major tenant and downtown restaurants and pubs without 38 winter dates to draw hockey fans.

Brad Church, a former Pirates player who was chief operating officer under Cain, soon joined forces with Wood in hopes of bringing an ECHL team to Portland in time for the 2017-18 season.

Wood said he remains optimistic that will happen, although the expansion route seems increasingly unlikely. “I think it’s more likely we will try to buy an existing franchise,” he said Tuesday. “We’re in conversations with a number of potential investors. There is nothing definitive yet, but several people are looking hard at the situation.”

Neither Wood nor Church plan to be part of any investment group, although Church hopes to be an executive with the new team.

Wood said four potential investors have expressed interest in being sole or majority owner.

“There are others who have expressed interest in being minority owners,” he said, “depending on who the majority owner is and what the deal looks like.”

LOWER TICKET PRICES, NEW ARENA LEASE

The ECHL has 27 active franchises. Two of those won’t play in the upcoming season, scheduled to begin Oct. 14.

One is the Worcester (Mass.) Railers, an expansion team approved in February and set to begin play in 2017.

The other is the former Evansville (Indiana) IceMen. In January, the franchise announced a move to Owensboro, Kentucky, but opted to “go dark” for the upcoming season in order to address arena issues. Last month, Owensboro city officials opted against building a new arena, a decision that may lead owner Ron Geary to consider selling the franchise if renovating the 66-year-old Owensboro Sportscenter proves untenable.

Initially, Wood said he thought buying an existing franchise would be cheaper than paying the expansion fee. Last month, he said the ECHL is considering a “transfer tax” that would equalize the price of an existing team and an expansion team.

On Tuesday, both Wood and Babik declined to discuss such details.

The AHL is considered the top tier of minor-league hockey, with the ECHL a rung below. Unlike the AHL, teams in the ECHL don’t pay affiliation fees, which cost the Pirates $800,000 per year to the NHL Florida Panthers, who supplied players and staff.

A lower cost structure in the ECHL includes a weekly salary cap that stood at $12,500 last season and would allow for lower ticket prices. General admission prices, Wood told the Portland Press Herald last month, could be less than half the $18 charged last season by the Pirates.

Any successful deal to bring pro hockey back to Portland must include a new lease agreement with the Cross Insurance Arena board of trustees.

“We have been in touch with them fairly regularly,” board member Neal Pratt said of Wood and Church. “We’ve sort of primed the pump with them from a conceptual standpoint. Now it’s waiting for a more concrete proposal from them.”

STILL HOPES FOR THE 2017-18 SEASON

Pratt said the board would not agree to any new lease before meeting with the ownership group.

“When the time comes where they’re at that point,” he said, “we would certainly want to meet with the principals and understand what and who and how.”

The trustees and the Pirates were about $45,000 apart on terms for a new lease when the team abruptly announced it was leaving. The Pirates said they were losing half a million dollars a year and needed relief in the existing lease – signed through April 2019 – to keep the team in Portland.

The North division for the upcoming ECHL season consists of teams in Glens Falls and Elmira, New York; Brampton, Ontario; Wheeling, West Virginia; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Reading, Pennsylvania.

“It’s just a matter of putting the right people together at this point,” said Wood, who expressed optimism about securing a team in time for the 2017-18 season. “We don’t want to go longer than that.”

 

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Christian woman sues to wear headscarf in license photo http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/christian-woman-sues-to-wear-headscarf-in-license-photo/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/christian-woman-sues-to-wear-headscarf-in-license-photo/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 23:29:31 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/christian-woman-sues-to-wear-headscarf-in-license-photo/ MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A Christian woman in Alabama was forced to remove her headscarf for a driver’s license photo after being told only Muslim women could wear them in photos, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama on her behalf.

Yvonne Allen of Tuskegee said in the lawsuit that when she went to renew her license in December, she was directed to remove the headscarf she wears in accordance with her religious beliefs. She said the clerk insisted that only Muslim women were allowed to cover their hair in the photos.

“I was devastated when they forced me to remove my headscarf to take my driver’s license photo,” Allen said in a statement released by the ACLU. “Revealing my hair to others is disobedient to God. I should have the same right as people of other faiths to be accommodated for my religious beliefs.”

The lawsuit filed in federal court named Lee County Probate Judge Bill English and clerk Becky Frayer as defendants. Efforts to reach English by telephone were unsuccessful and a message was not immediately returned seeking comment.

The lawsuit asks that Allen be allowed to take a new license photograph with her head covered.

“The government cannot discriminate between faiths in granting religious accommodations,” said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.

The lawsuit contends that Allen’s religious rights were violated and the state was selectively enforcing accommodations for religious beliefs.

The state in 2004 – responding to complaints from Muslims and Sikhs – did away with a policy that prohibited the wearing of head scarves and turbans in driver’s license photos.

The new policy said that head coverings and headgear are acceptable for religious beliefs and medical conditions, but for no other reason.

The person’s face must be completely visible in the photo.

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Jay man sentenced to prison for defrauding federal housing programs http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jay-man-sentenced-to-prison-for-defrauding-federal-housing-programs/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jay-man-sentenced-to-prison-for-defrauding-federal-housing-programs/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:35:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/jay-man-sentenced-to-prison-for-defrauding-federal-housing-programs/ Timothy P. Gallagher, 47, of Jay was sentenced to prison Tuesday on a federal fraud charge by Judge Jon D. Levy in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Gallagher pleaded guilty in April to defrauding a company that received funding from programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release, said U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II.

Investigators found that Gallagher embezzled $79,639 from Stanford Management LLC, a property management company in Portland that specializes in affordable housing and receives millions of dollars in federal funding.

While employed as a full-time construction manager at Stanford, Gallagher set up a competing construction company and paid himself a wage to hire subcontractors to work on Stanford properties. He also concealed his ownership of the competing company from Stanford and the federal agencies.

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Metro buses to transport Baxter Academy students http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/metro-buses-to-transport-baxter-academy-students/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/metro-buses-to-transport-baxter-academy-students/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:25:45 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/metro-buses-to-transport-baxter-academy-students/ The Metro bus service has reached an agreement to provide transportation for students of Baxter Academy for Technology and Science and will add trips to towns north of Portland to accommodate the charter school’s passengers.

Metro’s Board of Directors approved a three-year agreement last week with the school in Portland to issue transit passes to students who live within its service area. Metro General Manager Greg Jordan said about 60 students will be given passes and 28 of those students live in towns served by or near the Metro Breez bus covering Portland, Yarmouth and Freeport.

The Breez service, launched in June, provides an express bus with nine round-trips a day and seven stops in Freeport and Yarmouth.

Because Baxter Academy’s release times do not match the Breez schedule, Metro will add a round trip to serve the students, Jordan said in a memo to the directors. The company does not want to adjust the schedule so soon after starting the Breez service, but the schedule could change in January depending on ridership trends and public input, Jordan said.

Baxter Academy has about 340 high school students from dozens of southern Maine communities.

Metro estimates the Baxter Academy pass will add 5,400 to 7,200 boardings a year.

The year-long passes will give students access to the Metro service for trips to and from school, Baxter Academy officials said. Metro reached a similar agreement last year to give transit passes to Portland high school students.

Using Metro is consistent with Baxter Academy’s mission to involve its students as active members of their community, said Head of School Michele LaForge. The school tries to use public options for student services whenever possible, such as using local restaurants and vendors for its lunch program.

Baxter uses three chartered school buses to transport some students, LaForge said. Other students use public transportation like the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach shuttle bus and the Lakes Region Explorer to get to school, LaForge said.

“The thing that will never change is, we try very hard to allow our kids to be part of our world,” LaForge said.

“Taking advantage of public options whenever possible is something we always want to do.”

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Advocates to hold forum on Portland-Lewiston-Montreal rail service http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/advocates-to-hold-forum-on-portland-lewiston-montreal-rail-service/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/advocates-to-hold-forum-on-portland-lewiston-montreal-rail-service/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:13:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/advocates-to-hold-forum-on-portland-lewiston-montreal-rail-service/ A coalition that supports passenger rail service will hold a public forum Thursday in Portland on a proposed train service linking Portland, Lewiston and Montreal.

The event will feature a presentation on the state of passenger rail and next steps for the proposal. The forum will be held at Stroudwater Distillery at Thompson’s Point at 6 p.m.

A passenger rail link between the three cities has been considered for years. Last year, the Legislature and cities of Lewiston and Auburn provided funding to draw up a service development plan, said Tony Donovan of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition.

The plan would include possible route maps, stop locations and equipment, Donovan said.

Speakers at the forum will include Donovan, representatives from AARP and the Sierra Club, Dr. Monika Bissell from the Maine College of Health Professionals and Montreal train advocate Francois Rebello. The event will be introduced by Portland City Manager Jon Jennings.

The event is free and open to the public.

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Portland ocean power company gets $5.3 million research grant http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/portland-ocean-power-company-gets-5-3-million-grant/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/portland-ocean-power-company-gets-5-3-million-grant/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 21:39:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/portland-ocean-power-company-gets-5-3-million-grant/ A Portland company that is pioneering methods to harness river and tidal energy has received a $5.3 million grant to further its research.

The U.S. Energy Department announced Tuesday that Ocean Renewable Power Co. was among the 10 organizations selected to receive more than $20 million in funding for new research, development and demonstration projects that advance the generation of electricity from ocean waves and tidal currents.

ORPC, which has been testing hydrokinetic energy systems since 2009, was one of three demonstration projects selected for funding. It will use the money to enhance the performance of its tidal turbine system to capture higher flow velocities and reduce the cost of operations, which should ultimately lower the cost of energy.

“We’ve been working on this for three years, it’s as big deal for us,” said Chris Sauer, chief executive officer of ORPC, of the grant.

In 2012, the company’s tidal power project in Cobscook Bay near Eastport became the first to connect to a utility grid in the U.S. Sauer said ORPC intends to use the grant to attract more investment and further refine a larger, commercial version of its “TideGen” unit, which the company is calling its “version 2.0.”

“We need to make the system more cost effective and reliable,” he said.

Total cost for the project is $9,962,078. ORPC has received nearly $1 million from Maine Technology Asset Fund and is seeking private investment, primarily from wealthy individuals and foundations, for the remainder.

Sauer said he’s targeting those investors because they are typically more receptive to projects that benefit the environment and mitigate climate change, benefits that “go beyond return on investment.”

ORPC will be testing its TideGen version 2.0 using information from 11 previous in-water deployments. The project will be located in Western Passage, an inlet off the Bay of Fundy, off the coast of Maine. The company received preliminary approval for the Western Passage project last month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Sauer said if he’s able to raise the financing, he expects the design phase of the project to get underway this fall, with a device ready to put in the water in 2018.

“Our projections show in our target market, this will be a profitable power system,” said Sauer.

The company has identified remote, rural areas as its target market, where energy generation and transmission costs can be exorbitant.

The company previously developed a smaller unit dubbed “RivGen,” which was successfully tested in Alaska. The project involved installing submersible turbines in the Kvichak River to generate power for the remote Alaskan village of Igiugig. A pilot project, the technology was tested for two years and successfully demonstrated that it can provide one-third of the electrical power needs of the village. The project won an innovation award earlier this year from the National Hydropower Association.

Last year, ORPC opened an office in Ireland to test smaller hydrokinetic projects in County Donegal. It intends to use that as a foothold into the European energy market.

Besides the three demonstration projects, the Energy Department awarded money to seven organizations that are testing environmental monitoring technologies to protect wildlife and reduce environmental impacts.

Recent studies conducted by the Energy Department found that America’s technically recoverable wave energy resource ranges between approximately 900 and 1,230 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year. For context, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by 1 TWh per year. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of coastlines, there is vast potential to provide clean, renewable electricity to communities and cities in U.S. coastal areas, the release said.

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Farm leftovers to be used to feed 5,000 in Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/feeding-the-5000-from-maine-farms-gleanings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/feeding-the-5000-from-maine-farms-gleanings/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 21:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1036992 On Oct. 7, a coalition of groups concerned about hunger will feed stew made from left-behind produce to thousands in Portland.

At harvest time, farmers and food lovers celebrate the season’s bounty coming out of the fields. But often, too much of that bounty is left behind in the field, wasting food that could feed the hungry.

Now a large coalition of Maine groups concerned about hunger is bringing attention to the issue by organizing volunteers in southern Maine to glean produce from local farms. Their efforts are intended to ensure that fresh produce can get into the bellies of the people who need it instead of rotting in the field.

Produce is often left in farmers’ fields because mechanical harvesters cannot pick up all fruits and vegetables; also, pick-your-own farms may have leftover fruits because customers don’t pick trees and bushes thoroughly.

On Oct. 7, the coalition of groups plans to serve thousands of bowls of free hearty stew to the general public in an event called Feeding the 5,000. Some 2,500 bowls will be dished up in Monument Square in Portland, with the remainder going to schools, local companies and hunger prevention programs that serve people who rely on donated food for their meals.

The event, the first of its kind in Maine, is part of a global campaign spearheaded by Feedback, an organization based in London that has held similar events in more than 40 cities around the world.

In the last year, the issue of food waste has received much attention both nationally and internationally. In the United States, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has proposed a bill intended to eliminate food waste in part by changing sell-by labeling laws.

“We’re the smallest city to do this by far, so getting 5,000 people to eat our food is going to be a lot more challenging,” said Sarah Lakeman, the Sustainable Maine project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

The event is intended both to educate the public about food waste and to create an organizational structure for future gleaning efforts. The meal won’t use any food destined for local food pantries and soup kitchens.

Local organizers of the project include the Cumberland County Food Security Council, Healthy Acadia, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Garbage to Garden, which has been recruiting volunteers for a Food Recovery Crew that is part of the Maine Gleaning Network. Other participants include the Portland Food Co-op, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the city of Portland and Maine Farmland Trust.

In addition to feeding people in Monument Square, Lakeman has been speaking with schools and companies such as L.L. Bean, Unum and Idexx about taking a pot of stew to serve their students and employees. Any leftover stew will go to Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, which feeds the hungry.

Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth is among the local farms that has agreed to let volunteer gleaners pick their fields. Most farmers simply turn unharvested produce (which, if imperfect, supermarkets frequently reject) back into the soil, “but I think their preference as well as ours is that it get eaten,” said Jim Hanna, executive director of the Cumberland County Food Security Council.

“There is no coordinated gleaning effort in southern Maine at this time,” Hanna said. “Right now most efforts are through the Cooperative Extension, and they don’t have the volunteers they can mobilize at the spur of the moment.”

After the produce is gathered and two days before Feeding the 5,000, more volunteers will peel and chop produce for the stew at a “disco chop party” at the new Fork Food Lab in West Bayside. There, speakers and guest chefs will talk about the issue of food waste and do cooking demonstrations.

Among those who have signed up to help are David Levi of Vinland and Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley of Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honeypaw. Others! coffee shop in Monument Square has offered to make a sorbet out of melons or other fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste.

To learn more about the event, or to volunteer, keep an eye on the Feedback website, feedbackglobal.org.

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Snakeskin found in Westbrook was that of an anaconda http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/snake-skin-found-in-westbrook-was-an-anaconda/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/snake-skin-found-in-westbrook-was-an-anaconda/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:44:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/snake-skin-found-in-westbrook-was-an-anaconda/ The snakeskin that was found Aug. 20 in a park along the Presumpscot River in Westbrook is from an 8- or 9-foot-long anaconda – a snake that is not native to Maine.

Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts said Tuesday afternoon that DNA test results confirmed the species.

DNA testing was done by John S. Placyk Jr., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at Tyler.

“We do not know if the snakeskin was planted as a hoax or if it was actually left there by an anaconda,” Roberts said in a news release.

Westbrook police officers and a resident first spotted the snake – which has been dubbed “Wessie” – in June. Officers said they witnessed the snake feasting on what appeared to have been a beaver. Those sightings unleashed a flood of Wessie seekers, who began trolling Riverbank Park trying to locate the huge snake.

A Twitter handle called “Wessie P. Thon” also came into existence in June. “Wessie P. Thon” is currently followed by more than 1,700 people and describes itself as follows: “Hanging out in Westbrook, shedding my skin. Hungry. So very hungry. My head is not the size of a soccer ball. You’ll never take me alive Westbrook PD!”

Sightings of the snake, which people initially thought it was a python, captured the imaginations of the nation. After the snakeskin was found this month, Westbrook police began receiving inquiries from reporters for CNN, USA Today, the Huffington Post and The Boston Globe.

On Tuesday, after Roberts identified the snake as an anaconda, Wessie P. Thon tweeted: “Anaconda, Python … to-may-to, to-mah-to. Wait?! I’m a what? I think I’m having a mid-life crisis?!? Mom!!! You have some explaining to do!”

The Westbrook Police Department will continue to work with specialists to strategize on ways to locate, capture or euthanize the snake.

Anacondas make their home in the Amazon jungles of South America and are part of the boa constrictor family. Anacondas eat amphibious animals, such as frogs and toads, as well as fish, caiman, birds, ducks and turtles. The snake’s average length is 20 feet and the reptiles can weigh up to 300 pounds.

Mark Latti, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, said it is illegal for anyone in Maine to own an anaconda as a pet. However, he added, it is not illegal for someone to possess an anaconda’s skin – a reference to the possibility that the snakeskin may have been planted in the park by someone.

Latti said people can get an importation or possession permit from the state that would allow them to own other snake species, such as pythons and boas.

Latti’s department has provided information to the Westbrook Police Department but is leaving the investigation to police.

“We’re not concerned because we know it won’t survive a Maine winter,” Latti said.

In the meantime, Placyk and Roberts are urging the public to remain cautious in the event the snake is still alive and crawling along the banks of the river.

Like Latti, Roberts said anacondas would be unable to survive a Maine winter and are more likely to live in and around water. The snake is more likely to flee into a water body when confronted by a human.

“They will usually try and get away, usually via a body of water,” Roberts said.

“If you don’t get it, January will,” one person posted on the Westbrook Police Department’s Facebook page.

Anacondas are not venomous, but they do bite. A bite from an anaconda will be painful, but is not fatal. It can be treated with antibiotics.

“Our experts estimate the snake that the skin came from to be around 8 to 9 feet long. An anaconda of that size is a juvenile snake and is not a threat to humans,” Roberts said. “It would, however, be a threat to small pets such as a cat or small dog.”

Roberts urged the public not to approach any snake or try to capture it.

Anyone who spots a large snake is urged to call 911.

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Swanville man pleads guilty to illegal gun possession http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/swanville-man-pleads-guilty-to-illegal-gun-possession/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/swanville-man-pleads-guilty-to-illegal-gun-possession/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:43:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/swanville-man-pleads-guilty-to-illegal-gun-possession/ A Swanville man pled guilty Tuesday to illegally possessing guns after a prior conviction for domestic violence.

John T. Hines, 50, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Bangor.

According to U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II, Hines had a .357 Ruger revolver, two rifles and a shotgun, but was prohibited from possessing guns because of a prior conviction for domestic violence assault.

Hines faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Warmest August since 1940 almost a sure bet for Portland http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/warmest-august-and-meteorological-summer-almost-a-sure-bet-for-portland/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/warmest-august-and-meteorological-summer-almost-a-sure-bet-for-portland/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:20:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1036965 The beat goes on with regard to high pressure, sunshine and dry conditions in what’s been a very dry and very warm southern Maine summer for the past three months. I don’t see any significant rain in the forecast for the next 7 to 10 days unless a tropical system throws us a surprise. That is always possible this time of year, so stay tuned.

As Gaston has churned out in the Atlantic it has roughed up the seas a bit. If you are going to the ocean you’ll want to take a bit more caution when swimming and keep an even closer eye on children. Rip currents can come up very suddenly and in spite of a nearly cloudless sky a storm hundreds of miles away can affect our beaches. That’s about the only issue I see with regard to any weather problems.

Temperatures and humidity have been lower than yesterday when it felt a bit uncomfortable. Tomorrow a cold front will be far to our west, but a southerly flow of more humid air and warmer temperatures means it’s back to the feeling of mid-summer, with highs getting well into the 80s. There could be a few showers or even a thundershowers tomorrow night and again Thursday as this front gets closer and then eventually passes off the coast. Behind it, a new dry air mass will take over and bring us into and through the upcoming holiday weekend. At first it will feel fall-like in the morning Friday and Saturday, but as the air mass modifies, it will become warmer and once again more humidity and some heat look to return in the days following Labor Day.

Hot Summer of  2016

It’s not surprising the heat is likely going to come back next week. This will likely end up the warmest summer since records moved to the Portland Jetport. Additionally, this August will also end up the warmest since that time. The official numbers won’t be in until Thursday, but with highs in the 80s tomorrow it’s basically a lock.

Records used to be kept in downtown Portland, not at the Jetport. These started in the late 1800s although records can be found for Maine largest city as far back as the 1700s. Thermometers were not as accurate back then and the locations moved around the city of Portland. Even when readings initially began being taken at the airport they were moved. In December 1940, the thermometer was moved to its present location.

This will be the warmest meteorological summer in Portland ever recorded since records moved to the Jetport in 1941

This will be the warmest meteorological summer in Portland ever recorded since records moved to the Jetport in 1941.

August of 1937 was warmer than this year and the summers (June to August) of 1882 and 1876 also will end up averaging higher. In the modern error, this is the warmest summer since 2010.

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Victim of sex assault at St. Paul’s prep school speaks publicly for first time http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/victim-of-sex-assault-at-st-pauls-prep-school-speaks-publicly-for-first-time/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/victim-of-sex-assault-at-st-pauls-prep-school-speaks-publicly-for-first-time/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:36:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/victim-of-sex-assault-at-st-pauls-prep-school-speaks-publicly-for-first-time/ CONCORD, N.H. — A teen who was sexually assaulted during a game of sexual conquest at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school said Tuesday that she is no longer ashamed or afraid and hopes to be a voice for others.

Chessy Prout made her first public comments about the assault in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, telling what happened to her at St. Paul’s School in 2014 when she was a 15-year-old freshman.

“It’s been two years now since the whole ordeal, and I feel ready to stand up and own what happened to me and make sure other people – other girls and boys – don’t need to be ashamed, either,” said Prout, now 17 and about to start her senior year at a different school.

prout

Chessy Prout

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Prout has done.

Former St. Paul’s student Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was arrested in 2014, days after graduating from the Concord school. Prosecutors say he assaulted the girl as part of a competition known as the Senior Salute in which some seniors sought to have sex with underclassman.

Jurors convicted Labrie last year of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure the student. They acquitted him on three counts of felony sexual assault.

“They said that they didn’t believe that he did it knowingly, and that frustrated me a lot because he definitely did do it knowingly,” Prout said. “And the fact that he was still able to pull the wool over a group of people’s eyes bothered me a lot and just disgusted me in some way.”

Labrie was sentenced to a year in jail, but he remains free pending appeal.

When she returned to school after the trial, Prout said she got a chilly reception, especially from some of her male classmates.

“Everybody knew. None of my old friends who were boys would talk to me,” she said. “They didn’t even look me in the eyes.”

Prout left St. Paul’s and her parents have since sued the school, arguing it should have done more to protect her. The school has denied it could have prevented the assault, but it has since taken steps to “prevent and reduce risky adolescent behavior.”

In response to Prout’s interview, the school released a statement saying it “admires her courage and condemns unkind behavior toward her.”

“We have always placed the safety and well-being of our students first and are confident that the environment and culture of the school have supported that,” it said. “We categorically deny that there ever existed at the School a culture or tradition of sexual assault. However, there’s no denying the survivor’s experience caused us to look anew at the culture and environment. This fresh look has brought about positive changes at the School.”

As part of the lawsuit, the school demanded that Prout be identified. It argued that its right to a fair trial would be jeopardized if it couldn’t identify her. As a result, lawyers for the family filed an amended complaint Monday identifying the parents for the first time and then Prout went public Tuesday.

“She refuses to be intimidated by the school’s effort to publicly expose her identity at trial,” Steven D. Silverman, one of the attorneys for the family, told The Associated Press. “She has found her voice after remaining quiet for several years out of respect for the criminal justice system and the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

In the television interview, Prout said she sometimes gets panic attacks because of the assault and hides in her closet. Prout talked about how her little sister would come into her closet “when I’m rocking on the floor and punching my legs, trying to get myself to calm down, and she’ll try to give me the biggest hug, and she’ll say, ‘Chessy, you’re OK. Chessy, you’re OK.’ ”

Prout credited her family with helping her get through the ordeal.

“I can’t image how scary it is for other people to have to do this alone,” she said. “I don’t want anybody else to be alone anymore.”

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Islamic State group says its spokesman has been killed in Syria http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/islamic-state-group-says-its-spokesman-has-been-killed-in-syria/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/islamic-state-group-says-its-spokesman-has-been-killed-in-syria/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:07:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/islamic-state-group-says-its-spokesman-has-been-killed-in-syria/ BEIRUT — The Islamic State group said Tuesday that its spokesman and senior commander has been killed while overseeing military operations in northern Syria, and threatened to avenge his death.

The Islamic State-run Aamaq news agency said Abu Muhammed al-Adnani was “martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns in Aleppo,” without providing further details.

His death, if confirmed, would be the latest blow to the Islamic State group, which has been on the retreat in Syria and Iraq, where it has declared a self-styled Islamic caliphate straddling both countries.

Adnani, a senior leader in the group, has been the voice of the Islamic State over the past few years, and has released numerous, lengthy audio files online in which he delivered fiery sermons urging followers to carry out attacks.

Earlier this year, he called for massive attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He has also called for attacks in Western countries, telling Muslims in France on occasion to attack “the filthy French” in any way they could, including “crush them with your car.”

He has also disparaged Saudi Arabia and its influential clerics for failing to rally behind the rebels that the monarchy supports in Syria like they did decades ago in Afghanistan.

There was no immediate comment or confirmation from Washington of his death.

Aamaq vowed to revenge against the “filthy cowards in the sect of disbelief.” It said a generation raised in Islamic State-held territory will take revenge.

The Islamic State group has suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks, including in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, where Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels drove the group out of the border town of Jarablus last week.

In Iraq, the group has lost its strongholds in Fallujah and Ramadi, in the western Anbar province. It still controls Mosul, but Iraqi forces are gearing up for a long-awaited operation to retake the country’s second largest city.

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Bath police seeking man accused of attack with hammer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bath-police-seeking-man-accused-of-assaulting-another-with-hammer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bath-police-seeking-man-accused-of-assaulting-another-with-hammer/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:46:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/bath-police-seeking-man-accused-of-assaulting-another-with-hammer/ Bath police are seeking a man who they say assaulted another man with a hammer.

Jason Mackenzie

Jason Mackenzie

Jason Mackenzie, 38, of Bath, is being sought on a charge of aggravated assault after police responded to 98 Union St. at 1:20 a.m. Wednesday for a report of a man who had been assaulted with a hammer.

Officers discovered the victim, a 37-year-old man from Bowdoin, with serious but non-life threatening injuries to his face. Emergency responders were called to treat his injuries. Upon interviewing the victim and other witnesses, they were told Mackenzie and the victim had been arguing inside the building. The two men then went outside and Mackenzie picked up a hammer and hit the victim several times in the facial area.

A hammer was located by investigators outside the address where the assault took place.

The victim was taken by friends to Midcoast Hospital and released.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Mackenzie charging him with aggravated assault, a Class B crime. He is believed to be in the Dresden or Augusta areas.

Anyone who knows Mackenzie’s location is asked to call their local law enforcement agency.

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Cat found in locked trunk in Hollis will be put up for adoption http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/cat-discovered-in-locked-trunk-in-hollis-to-be-put-up-for-adoption/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/cat-discovered-in-locked-trunk-in-hollis-to-be-put-up-for-adoption/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:44:38 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/cat-discovered-in-locked-trunk-in-hollis-to-be-put-up-for-adoption/ A cat found inside a trunk in a Hollis parking lot Monday is recovering at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

The cat, which has been named Sky, is believed to be about a year old and is well socialized. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

The cat, which has been named Sky, is believed to be about a year old and is well socialized. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

According to the refuge league, the female cat was found by a pair of Buxton residents who were walking at the Hollis Sports Complex fields early Monday morning. They spotted a large trunk in the parking lot and heard a cat meowing inside. They were unable to open the trunk themselves, the league said, so they took it to a friend’s house, where they were able to get it open using a screwdriver.

The cat, which the league believes to be about a year old, had been locked inside without food and water.

Vets who checked out the cat, which has been named Sky, at the league in Westbrook said she appears to have been a family pet because she seemed well socialized. The cat had a significant amount of fleas and flea dirt, they said, but otherwise seemed to be healthy.

Anyone who thinks they may know where the cat came from is asked to call the refuge league at (207) 854-9771.

The organization said the cat is expected to be ready for adoption Saturday.

The cat was found locked in this trunk and a screwdriver was needed to free her.

The cat was found locked in this trunk and a screwdriver was needed to free her. Photo courtesy of Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland

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40 Virginia cases of Hepatitis A now linked to strawberry smoothies http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/40-virginia-cases-of-hepatitis-a-now-linked-to-smoothies/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/40-virginia-cases-of-hepatitis-a-now-linked-to-smoothies/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 16:49:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/40-virginia-cases-of-hepatitis-a-now-linked-to-smoothies/ RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia health officials say there are now 40 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A that are connected to frozen strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations across the state, up from 28 cases less than a week ago.

The Virginia Department of Health said in a news release Monday that about 55 percent of the infected residents have been hospitalized.

There are more than 500 of the smoothie franchises across the country, and Virginia is not the only state affected.

All the potentially contaminated Egyptian-sourced berries were pulled from the 96 Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in Virginia no later than Aug. 8 or Aug. 9.

According to Food Safety News, one of the outbreak victims, Constantinos Raptis, who was hospitalized for four days because his symptoms were so severe, has filed a civil case against Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages, according to

Officials say more cases could emerge, since some symptoms take as many as 50 days to emerge. The Hepatitis A virus affects the liver.

There are two Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in the Portland area, at 45 Western Ave. and 740 Broadway in South Portland.

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Manatee spotted off Cape Cod worries wildlife experts http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/manatee-spotted-off-cape-cod-worries-wildlife-experts/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/manatee-spotted-off-cape-cod-worries-wildlife-experts/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:59:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/manatee-spotted-off-cape-cod-worries-wildlife-experts/ CHATHAM, Mass. — Wildlife experts are growing concerned for the safety of a manatee that has been recently spotted in waters off the coast of Cape Cod once the seasons change.

Manatees like this one cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Andrew Jalbert/Shutterstock

Manatees like this one cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Andrew Jalbert/Shutterstock

The 8-foot-long manatee was last seen by a father and son while fishing in Chatham this past weekend.

At least a half-dozen sightings of the mammal have been reported since mid-August. It is believed to have arrived from Florida.

Members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s marine mammal rescue and research program were sent to Cape Cod to keep tabs on the manatee, which the organization says has shown no signs of trauma or distress.

Read more from the world of the Strange But True

But officials are becoming increasingly worried about the transient manatee if it overstays its welcome. Manatees cannot survive for long in waters colder than 68 degrees. Tuesday’s ocean temperature at Woods Hole was 75.9 degrees.

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USDA closes offices in 5 states following threats http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/usda-closes-offices-in-5-states-following-threats/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/usda-closes-offices-in-5-states-following-threats/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 15:55:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/usda-closes-offices-in-5-states-following-threats/ WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Department has closed offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats.

USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick says in a statement on Tuesday that the department had received “several anonymous messages” that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said six offices are closed until further notice.

Herrick said the department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal and local law enforcement to determine whether the threats are credible.

The closed offices are in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

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Seasonal gasoline prices reach 12-year low throughout U.S. http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/seasonal-gas-prices-reach-12-year-low-throughout-u-s/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/seasonal-gas-prices-reach-12-year-low-throughout-u-s/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:48:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/seasonal-gas-prices-reach-12-year-low-throughout-u-s/ It’s been the cheapest summer for gasoline prices in 12 years and consumers have saved nearly $19 billion at the pump, the analytical firm that provides the app GasBuddy said Tuesday morning.

Analysts with the firm said gas prices are on the rise because of rumors that oil-producing countries will reduce their output, but those prices are likely to fall again. GasBuddy’s analysts said supply has outpaced demand for oil for the past couple of years, leading to lower prices.

Labor Day gasoline prices are forecast to be about $2.19 a gallon, GasBuddy said, and the summer average is forecast to be about $2.24 a gallon. Both figures are at their lowest levels since 2004 for the respective time periods.

In Maine, gas prices averaged $2.22 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,228 gas outlets in the state. That price is one cent higher per gallon than the national average.

GasTrac: Find the lowest current gas prices in your area

Demand for gasoline typically falls after Labor Day as the busy summer driving season comes to a close. In addition, environmental rules that call for costlier, cleaner-burning gasoline formulas end on Sept. 15 in much of the country, which also helps to keep prices down.

It’s “a double-whammy of downward pressure just in time for autumn,” GasBuddy said in a statement.

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Your dog really does know what you’re saying, and a brain scan shows how http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/its-true-dogs-probably-know-pretty-much-what-youre-saying/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/its-true-dogs-probably-know-pretty-much-what-youre-saying/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:44:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/its-true-dogs-probably-know-pretty-much-what-youre-saying/ Your dog really does know what you’re saying, and a brain scan shows how Your dog gets you. I mean, he really gets you.

No, really – he actually does. So say scientists in Hungary, who have published a groundbreaking study that found dogs understand both the meaning of words and the intonation used to speak them. Put simply: Even if you use a very excited tone of voice to tell the dog he’s going to the vet, he’ll probably see through you and be bummed about going.

It had already been established that dogs respond to human voices better than their wolf brethren, are able to match hundreds of objects to words, and can be directed by human speech. But the new findings mean dogs are more like humans than was previously known: They process language using the same regions of the brain as people, according to the researchers, whose paper was published in Science.

Some of the dogs involved in a study to determine how dog brains process speech sit around a scanner in Budapest, Hungary. Borbala Ferenczy/MR Research Center via AP

Some of the dogs involved in a study to determine how dog brains process speech relax for a group photo with the MRI scanner at Eotvos Lorand University, in Budapest, Hungary. Borbala Ferenczy/MR Research Center via AP

To determine this, Attila Andics and colleagues at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest recruited 13 family dogs – mostly golden retrievers and border collies – and trained them to sit totally still for seven minutes in an fMRI scanner that measured their brain activity. (The pups were not restrained, and they “could leave the scanner at any time,” the authors assured.)

A female trainer familiar to the dogs then spoke words of praise that all their owners said they used – “that’s it,” “clever,” and “well done” – and neutral words such as “yet” and “if,” which the researchers believed were meaningless to the animals. Each dog heard each word in both a neutral tone and a happy, atta-boy tone.

Using the brain activity images, the researchers saw that the dogs processed the familiar words regardless of intonation, and they did so using the left hemisphere, just like humans. Tone, on the other hand, was analyzed in the auditory regions of the right hemisphere – just as it is in people, the study said.

And finally, they saw that the dogs’ “rewards center” – which is stimulated by pleasant things such as petting and food and sex – did the brain equivalent of jumping and yelping when positive words were spoken in a positive tone.

“It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” Andics said in a statement. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”

The researchers said it’s unlikely that human selection of dogs during their domestication, which occurred at least 15,000 years ago, could have led to this sort of brain function; instead, they say, it’s probably far more ancient.

That means we aren’t as special as we like to think, at least when it comes to how our brains deal with language. What makes words uniquely human, Andics said, is that we came up with using them.

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Garmin pledges to continue to publish iconic Maine Gazetteer http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/garmin-pledges-to-continue-to-publish-maine-gazetteer/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/garmin-pledges-to-continue-to-publish-maine-gazetteer/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:32:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/garmin-pledges-to-continue-to-publish-maine-gazetteer/ Garmin, the Swiss company that bought Yarmouth-based DeLorme in February, said Tuesday it will continue to publish its popular Atlas & Gazetteers in paper form.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer has been a valuable resource for Maine hikers and travelers since DeLorme began publishing it in 1976.

The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer has been a valuable resource for Maine hikers and travelers since DeLorme began publishing it in 1976.

The company said in a release that it will also “enhance” the products, although it offered no specifics beyond saying the atlases will be revised and updated and the company would make additional investments in “resources and cartography staff based in the Yarmouth facility.”

The question of the future of the atlases came up because Garmin is known for its wireless devices and technology in mapping and global positioning.

The Atlas & Gazeteers were the first products DeLorme offered when it was founded in 1976 and were known for their precision and inclusion of little-known roads and sites in rural areas of New England. Generations of Mainers kept a copy of the Maine edition in their cars to navigate back roads, find campgrounds, sand beaches, recreation areas, nature preserves, lighthouses and other scenic attractions long before the development of the Internet and GPS devices.

The company said the atlases will continue to be sold where they have been offered and no changes in distribution are planned. However, at the end of the year, online sales will move from delorme.com to garmin.com

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Crash involving car, motorcycle slows traffic on Brighton Ave. http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crash-involving-car-motorcycle-slows-traffic-on-brighton-ave/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crash-involving-car-motorcycle-slows-traffic-on-brighton-ave/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:01:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/crash-involving-car-motorcycle-slows-traffic-on-brighton-ave/ Rescue workers are on the scene of a car vs. motorcycle accident on Brighton Avenue in Portland near Rosemont Bakery.

The crash was reported at 9:43 a.m.

The motorcycle driver was down in the street, according to first responder reports, and drivers were asked to avoid the area near Colonial Road.

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Gov. Paul LePage raises possibility of resignation, discounts the idea hours later http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/lepage-says-he-is-considering-resignation-after-apology-to-westbrook-legislator/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/lepage-says-he-is-considering-resignation-after-apology-to-westbrook-legislator/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 13:35:42 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/lepage-says-he-is-considering-resignation-after-apology-to-westbrook-legislator/ Gov. Paul LePage took a step toward atoning for his recent actions Tuesday, while also sending sharply conflicting signals about how he plans to respond to mounting pressure from Democrats and members of his own party.

In a morning radio interview, LePage said he was totally at fault for leaving a threatening voicemail last week for a Democratic lawmaker whom he believed had called him a racist. He later invited Rep. Drew Gattine to the State House to have a face-to-face meeting on Wednesday, and Gattine accepted.

On Tuesday night, House Republicans caucused to discuss how to address LePage’s actions, but party leaders didn’t reveal details of a straw vote Rep. Robert Nutting of Oakland said they took during the nearly two-hour meeting at the Gov. Hill Mansion in Augusta.

During the day, LePage also raised the possibility more than once on the radio that he might not finish his second term because of the controversy, which has stretched on for a week.

“I’m looking at all options,” the Republican governor said while appearing on WVOM, a Bangor talk radio station, Tuesday morning. “I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”

Later in the interview, he said: “If I’ve lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it’s time to move on.”

Some six hours later, in a tweet posted from his Twitter account, LePage backed away from any suggestion that he was considering resignation.

“Regarding rumors of resignation, to paraphrase Mark Twain: ‘The reports of my political demise are greatly exaggerated,'” his office tweeted.

LePage went to Baileyville, in Washington County, on Tuesday to take part in a ceremony at St. Croix Tissue. He told WCSH-TV in an afternoon interview there that resignation was an exaggeration, but obviously an option. He also said he was talking with his family about what he should do. “I only have to be accountable to God and my family,” he said, “and that’s the most important thing in my life.”

LePage’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, would not provide clarification of the governor’s intentions Tuesday afternoon, saying only, “The tweet speaks for itself.”

The uncertainty comes after several days of sustained controversy that began last week when the governor told an audience in North Berwick that he’s been keeping a three-ring binder of drug dealers and that 90 percent of those dealers are black or Hispanic. Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of drug dealers arrested in Maine are white, and critics have said that even if the governor’s numbers were accurate, he is wrong to focus on race.

Over the past week, LePage has repeated his statements about the race of drug dealers in media interviews in several settings, ranging from his Blaine House residence to a meeting with New England governors in Boston – where he was roundly criticized by regional officials for his focus on race.

The governor’s actions, and the responses Maine of lawmakers, residents and others, have been fodder for national media attention, putting the state in an unflattering light.

One of LePage’s critics was Gattine. When the governor heard that the Westbrook Democrat had called him racist – Gattine actually said the governor made racially charge comments – LePage lashed out by leaving an obscenity-filled voice mail for Gattine and then later saying he wished he could challenge Gattine to a duel.

Since last Friday, lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about the governor’s fitness to hold office. Republican State Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough encouraged the governor to seek treatment.

Tom Saviello, a Republican senator from Wilton, said the governor, in his radio remarks, started to answer some concerns.

“He has work to do,” Saviello said. “I’m glad that he’s going to have a conversation with Drew Gattine. That’s important to me personally.”

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, said LePage’s apology did not go far enough and called on legislative leaders from both parties “to get in the same room and discuss these very serious issues.”

“I believe the governor has taken away from meeting with Republicans sort of their concerns, but what I didn’t hear was an admission that the governor is willing to admit that Representative Gattine did not call him a racist,” House Democratic Leader Jeff McCabe said. “Also, as part of that interview, the governor sort of tried to turn things around and make himself the victim, which that’s not really what Democratic leadership is looking for at this time.”

McCabe said Democrats still feel the best thing for LePage to do is resign. Outside of that, he said the governor needs to consider treatment.

“I’m not in the medical profession, but it’s clear that the governor needs to seek professional help,” McCabe said. “He’s crossed a line and we are questioning his well-being at this time.”

Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, pointed toward LePage’s conflicting messages on whether he might resign as further evidence that he should step aside, saying Mainers are “all seeing his state of mind.”

“I think most of Maine has no idea if what he says this morning is going to stick this afternoon,” said Alfond, a former Senate President who has clashed publicly with LePage but also worked closely with him on issues. “I think it illustrates that he is unfit (to govern) and that his judgment and his ability to lead a complex state has been jeopardized. And he really should be doing the soul-searching he talked about this morning and should resign.”

Democrats say they have been trying to meet with Republican leaders about next steps, but so far, that hasn’t happened,

During his radio interview, LePage did apologize to the people of Maine and to Gattine’s family for leaving a threatening voice mail last week, but didn’t apologize to Gattine directly.

“When I was called a racist I just lost it, and there’s no excuse,” the governor said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s totally my fault.” LePage said being called a racist for him was, “like calling a black man the ‘N’ word or a woman the ‘C’ word. It just absolutely knocked me off my feet.”

LePage also said his wife and daughter have received hateful messages in the last several days, and he blamed the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive political organization, for being behind those messages.

LePage scheduled one of his recurring town hall events for Wednesday night in Westbrook, but the event was canceled Monday. The president of the teen center where the event was to be held said Monday night that members of the board voted to not host town hall because of capacity concerns. Calls to the governor’s representatives to confirm the cancellation were not returned Monday night. On Tuesday, LePage’s office said the governor had canceled the meeting.

Several times since he made his initial comments about black and Hispanic drug dealers, LePage has returned to the issue of race – even as lawmakers have challenged his assertions. The governor didn’t soften that position Tuesday.

“The fact of the matter is this: I got all of my info in my book from the press. It’s that simple,” he said. “Every drug arrest, we get the story and the people, and when it comes to meth labs it’s all white people from Maine. When it comes to heroin, it’s just the opposite. Whether it’s right or wrong and I’ll leave you to make that judgment, but I spoke fact.

“Now they are saying, you can’t do this because of the racially charged atmosphere in our country, but the same token is all lives matter. That’s the bottom line, all lives matter.”

LePage continues to focus on the racial makeup of drug dealers. He first made the claims months ago when he accused black dealers of coming up to Maine and impregnating white women.

Last Friday, in an attempt to clarify his comments at the North Berwick town hall, the governor appeared to endorse racial profiling.

“Look, the bad guy is the bad guy, I don’t care what color he is,” LePage said. “When you go to war, if you know the enemy and the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, then you shoot at red.”

LePage then turned to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, an officer who serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard and sat in on the news conference. “Don’t you – Ken (Fredette) you’ve been in uniform? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

McCabe said he’s troubled that the governor keeps focusing on race when talking about the drug crisis. He did it again on Monday in Boston following a meeting of New England governors.

“This is a meeting of governors trying to solve issues that affect the states, trying to solve and move forward with addressing the drug epidemic that is beyond Maine, and what the governor does is, he goes down to Massachusetts and he doubles down on the same comments he made here in Maine that caused such an outcry,” he said.

Asked about that, Sen. Saviello said, “It troubles me when he singles out any minority.”

While LePage has repeatedly emphasized his concern about the impact of drug addiction in Maine, state spending on addiction treatment during his administration has actuallydeclined.

LePage met with Republican House and Senate leaders Monday night at the Blaine House and said he plans to talk with his staff and family before deciding on his next move. He said his impression from Monday’s meeting was that House Republicans want to “salvage what we can and move forward.” Senate Republicans, he said, are “making demands.”

State Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner, an ardent LePage supporter, said he hadn’t been paying close attention to everything that had transpired in the last few days as he was dealing with an emergency at his family’s apple orchard involving a burglary.”

“It’s not my monkey,” Timberlake said. “I going to come and see and listen tonight before I say anything. I don’t know what was said to the governor (Monday night). So I need to wait and see how it all shook out.”

LePage seemed to at least acknowledge in his radio interview that his ability to lead Maine may be in question now.

“It’s not about me. It’s about making sure that we can move the state forward,” he said. “It’s one thing to have one party behind (you), it’s another thing to not have any party behind you.”

 

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Heart of Biddeford receives national accreditation http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/heart-of-biddeford-receives-national-accreditation/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/heart-of-biddeford-receives-national-accreditation/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:55:40 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/heart-of-biddeford-receives-national-accreditation/ Heart of Biddeford, an organization that promotes the city’s downtown revitalization, has received accreditation from the National Main Street Center.

The nonprofit Heart of Biddeford partners with the city, business community, property owners and residents to foster economic development and improve the downtown, which has been undergoing a transformation as former mills are repurposed.

“We are thrilled to recognize this year’s recipients for their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach,” said Patrice Frey, president of National Main Street Center, in a prepared statement. “Nationally accredited Main Street America communities work to strengthen the economic, social and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”

National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities focused on preservation-based economic development.

Heart of Biddeford announced its accreditation status Tuesday morning.

Three years ago, the Heart of Biddeford launched a “Main Street Challenge” that helped small businesses open downtown. Those businesses included Elements: Books Coffee Beer, Desert Moon Leather and Biscuits & Company. The organization also helps organize and promote community events, including the upcoming River Jam Festival on Sept. 17.

“Heart of Biddeford’s revitalization efforts build on the work of many people before us, and happen in partnership with the municipality, the business community, hundreds of committed citizens and our partnering organizations,” said Delilah Poupore, the organization’s executive director. “It’s cooperative community development that leads to better economic development for our region.”

Heart of Biddeford’s next major program is the Great Space Showcase on Sept. 26. The group is working with property owners to showcase available spaces downtown and attract businesses interested in moving to Biddeford.

Heart of Biddeford also is actively seeking pop-up stores for November and December to create more vibrant scene and draw more people to check out retail opportunities in Biddeford, Poupore said.

“There’s a movement building here,” Poupore said. “And Heart of Biddeford is proud to partner with so many to foster the revitalization of this beautiful city.”

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EU says Apple must pay Ireland up to $14.5 billion in back taxes http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/eu-says-apple-must-pay-ireland-up-to-14-5-billion-in-back-taxes/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/eu-says-apple-must-pay-ireland-up-to-14-5-billion-in-back-taxes/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:06:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/eu-says-apple-must-pay-ireland-up-to-14-5-billion-in-back-taxes/ Apple Inc. was ordered to pay as much as $14.5 billion plus interest after the European Commission ruled that Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone maker’s tax bill, in a record crackdown on fiscal loopholes that also risks inflaming tensions with the U.S.

The world’s richest company benefited from selective tax treatment that gave it an unfair advantage over other businesses, the European Union regulator said Tuesday. It’s the largest tax penalty in a three-year campaign against corporate tax avoidance. Apple and Ireland both vowed to fight the decision in the EU courts.

Ireland allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1 percent on its European profits in 2003, declining to 0.005 percent in 2014, according to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

“If my effective tax rate would be 0.05 percent falling to 0.005 percent, I would have felt that maybe I should have a second look at my tax bill,” she told reporters.

The U.S. Treasury Department, which has pushed back hard against the EU state-aid probes, said the commission’s actions “could threaten to undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the U.S. and the EU.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Apple executives have shared concerns about the company’s tax treatment overseas with officials in President Obama’s administration.

Administration officials are broadly concerned that what Earnest called the EU’s “unilateral approach” doesn’t undermine coordinated efforts to prevent an “erosion of the tax base.” Also, he said, they want to ensure that any actions are fair to U.S. taxpayers and U.S. businesses.

Apple, which employs about 6,000 people in Ireland, was one of the first companies caught up in the EU’s backlash against corporate tax-avoidance. The EU, like other global regulators, has targeted firms that sidestep taxes by moving around profits and costs to wherever they are taxed most advantageously – exploiting loopholes or special deals granted by friendly governments.

“The most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter published on the company’s website. “Every company in Ireland and across Europe is suddenly at risk of being subjected to taxes under laws that never existed.”

While the $14.5 billion figure represents the EU’s estimate of how much Ireland should claw back from Apple, the commission said the actual figure could be less if other nations used the information gleaned by the EU to claim a share of taxes.

Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that Vestager was advising countries to “in effect, form a queue and look for that tax.”

The commission said the amount could be reduced if the U.S. required Apple to pay larger amounts of money to its American parent company to finance research and development efforts.

Ultimately, the EU courts also have the power to cut or overturn repayment orders if they find fault with the commission methodology during the appeals process.

But such challenges can take years to finalize, meaning the final sum that Apple may have to pay won’t be known until then. The money clawed back can be held in escrow pending a ruling.

While $14.5 billion is the highest ever sought by the EU in a state-aid case, it is unlikely to leave the company short of money. As of last month, Apple had $232 billion in cash, with about $214 billion of that being held overseas. Apple generated about $4.45 billion a month last year, meaning the decision would eat up about three months of profit.

Apple’s stock declined by less than 1 percent Tuesday.

Low corporate taxes are the cornerstone of Irish economic policy, with the 12.5 percent rate the lowest in Western Europe and a draw for Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. to Dublin. More than 700 U.S. companies have units there, employing 140,000 people, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland.

“It’s strange to think that Ireland would not want to collect more taxes from Apple, but Ireland’s primary concern here is protecting domestic investment and jobs,” said Matt Larson, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

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Blaze displaces residents of apartment building on Forest Avenue http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/blaze-damages-apartment-building-on-forest-avenue/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/blaze-damages-apartment-building-on-forest-avenue/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 10:23:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/blaze-damages-apartment-building-on-forest-avenue/ An early morning fire caused heavy damage to a six-unit apartment building on Portland’s Forest Avenue Tuesday.

Firefighters remained on the scene at 732 Forest Ave. for several hours Tuesday morning to investigate the cause of a fire that started in a storage in the rear of the building. Photo courtesy of WCSH

Firefighters remained on the scene at 732 Forest Ave. for several hours Tuesday morning to investigate the cause of a fire that started in a storage in the rear of the building. Photo courtesy of WCSH

Firefighters were called to 732 Forest Ave. at 1:25 a.m. and arrived five minutes later, according to the Portland Fire Department.

Five of the six units in the buildings were occupied. All of the residents who were home escaped unharmed, including some pets.

First-floor resident Brent Tibbetts, 26, said he arrived home around 1:30 a.m. and saw firefighters directing streams of water into the building.

“I was driving up … and saw flames shooting out of the windows,” Tibbetts said.

The heaviest fire damage was centered in a rear storage area on the second and third floors.

Another first-floor resident, Elizabeth Chaplin, 22, was waiting to get back into her room to assess what of her belongings could be saved.

“There’s a lot of water damage on the ceiling and puddles on the floor,” Chaplin said.

Chaplin said she was not yet asleep when she smelled smoke and heard a roommate cry out that the building was on fire and heard the smoke alarms upstairs start beeping. She said the next thing she knew, there was a police officer in her apartment, helping to usher her out of the building.

Fire Capt. David Petrucelli said the building may not be a total loss. Fire officials said they do not believe the fire is suspicious, but have not yet pinpointed its origin or cause.

The Red Cross said it was called in to assist with relief efforts, and residents had not been allowed back inside as of early Tuesday morning.

A local Red Cross team assisted five residents who were affected by the fire, and plans to offer financial assistance and referrals for help.

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Some say they’ll remain in homeless camp despite Portland police deadline http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/some-say-theyll-remain-in-homeless-camp-despite-portland-police-deadline/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/30/some-say-theyll-remain-in-homeless-camp-despite-portland-police-deadline/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1036154 Two men and two women sat at a table under a Maine Turnpike overpass near the Portland-Westbrook line late Monday morning, making it clear they’re in no hurry to leave.

Each had a 25-ounce Natty Daddy, a high-alcohol beer, as they played a game of Trouble. Nearby, three tents were set up near a graffiti-covered wall. A mattress lay on the ground.

“We have nowhere to go. Nowhere,” one of the women said as the highway traffic roared overhead. “We’ll probably all go to jail.”

Portland police have given people staying on nearly 30 acres of land off Brighton Avenue until Wednesday to clear out. It’s unknown how many occupants of the encampment have left or intend to do so by Wednesday.

But the four people sitting beneath the highway said they have no plans to go anywhere.

It’s unclear exactly how many people are staying on the privately owned land, which sits behind Lowe’s and Jo-Ann Fabrics. But it’s apparent that the encampment has been there for years, with well-trodden paths connecting a network of campsites and piles of garbage. Some camps have wooden structures and fire pits, and others have gardens, including one with tomatoes, squash and watermelon.

None of the four occupants interviewed Monday wanted to be identified or would give their full name. Only Andy, a 36-year-old native of Waterville, would give a first name.

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Homeless people play a board game Monday under a turnpike overpass where they have set up tents and hope to remain. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Andy estimated that there are more than two dozen people living in what some people have called Tent City, or the Pine Tree Camp. Some have camped there for nearly a decade, he said.

“Don’t call it ‘Tent City,’ ” Andy said. “We call it home.”

Fliers have been popping up around the city to “Save Pine Tree Camp,” saying that “homelessness is not a crime.” Although the fliers call for a halt to any enforcement action, police say they plan to follow through with the order and clear the campsites this week.

Police issued trespassing notices to most of the campers this month, after seeing an increase in service calls to the area for incidents such as domestic violence, arson and individuals with outstanding warrants. That was before a man living in the encampment was stabbed by a fellow camper last week, police said.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said officers will visit the area Tuesday to assess the situation. If any campers remain Wednesday, they will be issued a trespass notice, Sauschuck said. If they don’t clear out by Thursday, they could be cited for criminal trespassing and face either a summons to appear in court or possible arrest, he said.

Sauschuck hopes campers will take advantage of shelters and other services being offered by social workers.

“It’s unfortunate that this situation is occurring, but folks are trying to reach out and to give these folks the assistance they need,” he said.

Case workers from the city and nonprofit groups such as Milestone and Preble Street have been conducting regular outreach to the campers. The goal is to use housing vouchers or bring campers into the shelter system.

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

A campsite in the 30 acres off Brighton Avenue where homeless people stay contains a tent and other items. Some camps have wooden structures, fire pits or gardens. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

However, Portland’s tight rental market is making it difficult to find housing, even when someone has a voucher, said Donna Yellen, chief program officer at Preble Street, a social services agency that operates a soup kitchen and day shelter in downtown Portland.

“There just isn’t enough affordable housing,” Yellen said. “The housing crisis in Portland is so severe that they are forced to make their homes outside.”

Portland’s emergency shelters are bursting at the seams, forcing the city to open it’s General Assistance office as an overnight “warming center” where people have to sit upright in plastic chairs.

Yellen said there are about 118 people in Portland who would rather camp out than stay in shelters or sit in chairs.

It’s unclear who owns the property where the campers are staying. Efforts to contact a possible owner have been unsuccessful.

City officials previously said it was owned by Emery-Waterhouse Co., which is located across Rand Avenue, and the Inn at Portland, which is adjacent to the site. On Monday, however, city officials pointed to three parcels owned by Centro Heritage SPE 4, LLC. The city mails its tax bills to an accounting firm in Arizona and could not provide further information about the owner or manager of the property.

Back under the bridge, the four adults said they weren’t interested in entering the overcrowded shelter, citing concerns about bedbugs, lice and scabies. Instead, they are content to wait out the police deadline and see what happens.

“I’ll take this over snoring and farting any day,” Andy said.

 

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Maine Mall founder Robert J. Dunfey Sr. dies at 88 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-mall-founder-robert-j-dunfey-sr-dies-at-88/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-mall-founder-robert-j-dunfey-sr-dies-at-88/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 03:38:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-mall-founder-robert-j-dunfey-sr-dies-at-88/ Robert J. Dunfey Sr., who founded and developed the Maine Mall shopping center in South Portland, once owned the former Eastland Hotel in Portland, and was a prominent backer of Democratic politicians, died last week. He was 88.

A former resident of Cape Elizabeth, Dunfey died Aug. 23 in Dover, New Hampshire, following a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More recently he had resided in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“I still remember the time my father took me for a ride on Payne Road past a pig farm in South Portland. He said to me, ‘There is going to be a mall there, and I said, Dad, what’s a mall?’ ” his son Robert J. Dunfey Jr. of Cape Elizabeth recalled Monday. The Maine Mall, which opened in 1971 with anchor stores Sears and Jordan Marsh, has become the largest shopping mall in Maine. It now features 119 stores.

Dunfey also helped create some of the mall’s adjacent commercial developments, including the Doubletree Hotel – formerly a Sheraton – and the retail complex at Clarks Pond in South Portland.

“He was a true visionary,” his son said. “I learned a lot from him.”

Dunfey also acquired the former Eastland Hotel in downtown Portland in 1960 and helped establish it as one of the best lodging and dining facilities in the city.

Dunfey proved to be an astute businessman throughout his career, co-founding the chain of Dunfey Hotels now known as Omni Hotels.

The younger Dunfey said his father played a significant role in creating peace in Northern Ireland and traveled to Oslo, Norway, with John Hume and David Trimble – prominent Northern Ireland leaders – when they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

In 1980, acting on behalf of then-Maine Gov. Joseph Brennan, Dunfey asked U.S. District Judge George Mitchell to fill the Senate seat of Edmund Muskie, who had been appointed secretary of state by President Jimmy Carter.

Dunfey went on to become good friends with Mitchell, whom he accompanied on a fact-finding mission to Northern Ireland.

Dunfey was also a very political person. He served as the Maine state coordinator for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Dunfey Jr. said Kennedy would call his father every Sunday for campaign updates.

Not all of his accomplishments were popular.

Dunfey led a controversial campaign in 1966 to allow Maine restaurants, lounges and hotels to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday – something that had never been allowed.

“An opponent put sand in his gas tank,” his son recalled. “Knowing my father, he probably took it in stride.”

Though he was a savvy businessman, Dunfey also had a big heart, his son said.

He said he learned after his father’s death through posts on Facebook that Dunfey paid college tuition for the child of one of his workers at the Eastland, and paid the tuition for the child of a housekeeper to attend Cheverus High School.

He was co-founder of Camp Susan Curtis, which was established in memory of former Maine Gov. Kenneth Curtis’ daughter, who died while Curtis was in office. The camp serves economically disadvantaged youths from Maine, providing them with a tuition-free outdoor camping experience.

“My father was a humble person. He didn’t seek any publicity for his accomplishments or his good deeds,” the younger Dunfey said.

Dunfey is survived by his wife, five children, and four siblings. A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 10 in St. John Evangelist Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

 

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Gardiner forum on substance abuse focuses partly on reducing stigma http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/forum-deals-with-substance-abuse-risks/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/forum-deals-with-substance-abuse-risks/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 01:41:46 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/forum-deals-with-substance-abuse-risks/ GARDINER — More than 30 people spent two hours discussing ways to reduce the impact of substance abuse in local communities during a Monday forum at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner.

The forum was part of a three-year project by Healthy Communities of the Capital Area to determine what the greatest health-related problems affecting the area are, as well as how to address them.

“We need to build communities, we need to reduce stigma and we need to teach each other about how we care,” said Joanna Joy, executive director of the Gardiner-based organization.

Police Chief James Thoman said he continues to encourage his officers to be seen throughout the community.

“It’s the old adage of get out of the car and go to events that are occurring, whether that be a Little League game or a concert at the waterfront,” Thoman said after the meeting. “I tell them to be approachable and be a part of the community, and let the citizens get to know you on a first-name basis because that breaks down barriers.

“Good things happen when there are no barriers,” he said.

Reducing the stigma associated with substance abuse was a focus of the meeting.

One way to do that, Joy said, is to increase community understanding of the impact of substance abuse and to educate the community about the impact that adverse childhood experiences and trauma have on substance abuse.

Bob Creamer of Hallowell, who spent more than two decades as a recovery counselor, said stigma is a big part of the problem.

“If we continue to focus on the people and not the problem, we’ll keep having these meetings until we’re all gone,” Creamer said. “Addiction is an illness and that is the problem. The person is the victim.”

Creamer said part of the stigma comes from the language people use when talking about substance abuse, including “clean.”

“You hear someone say they are clean when they aren’t using,” Creamer said. “Well, the other side of that would be someone is dirty if they are using, but we don’t use those words when talking about any other disease.”

Nobody says a person who is in remission from cancer is clean, and when they are fighting the disease they are dirty, Creamer said.

Before the meeting broke into group discussions, Joy shared several alarming statistics from the most recent Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey.

Data showed that 63.1 percent of high schoolers from southern Kennebec County, which includes 18 towns from Wayne to Richmond and on both sides of the Kennebec River, don’t believe that marijuana is harmful and 42 percent of local high school students said they’ve vaped.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Gardiner program director Nate Mitchell recently spoke to a group of mostly high schoolers and said peer pressure and the desire for attention are among the reasons kids use alcohol and drugs.

The same survey found that 50 percent of area high school students feel like they don’t matter to other people. Later in the meeting, the discussion focused on making community connections by increasing shared activities between students and their parents or guardians and by identifying safe spaces for youths to be with their peers.

Last week, data released by the Maine Attorney General’s Office showed drug overdose deaths continuing to climb in Maine with opioids including heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers at the heart of the problem.

There have been 189 drug overdose deaths this year in Maine through June 30, an increase of 50 percent over the same period last year, when there were 126 overdose deaths, according to the data.

Joy said she wasn’t shocked when she read the report. She said her organization has interviewed foster families, local teenagers, Head Start program providers, people in recovery and health care providers in researching ways to reduce the risk factors associated with substance abuse.

The Mayo Clinic says people of any age, sex or economic status can become addicted to a drug, but the health care organization identifies several factors that can affect the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction. Those include lack of family involvement, peer pressure, anxiety, depression and loneliness and having another mental health disorder.

An application is due in September for a grant that would provide $60,000 per year for the organization to continue the community collaboration fostered in these meetings. Joy is confident the Gardiner-based organization will receive the funding.

Healthy Communities of the Capital Area will hold a similar forum at the Buker Community Center in Augusta at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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Falmouth plans to hire consultant for Route 1 North design http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/falmouth-plans-to-hire-consultant-for-route-1-north-design/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/falmouth-plans-to-hire-consultant-for-route-1-north-design/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 01:15:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/falmouth-plans-to-hire-consultant-for-route-1-north-design/ FALMOUTH — The town plans to hire a consultant to develop a long-term concept plan for part of Route 1.

In a request for proposals issued Monday, the town said it wants to create a 25-year vision and creative plan for Route 1 North, a section between the Maine Turnpike spur and the Cumberland town line.

The area is one of two commercial growth areas in town and is zoned as a business professional district. According to the town, the area is intended for commercial and mixed-use growth and possibly residential development. According to the request for proposals, the consultant would help a town committee and staff to articulate a vision for the area, identify infrastructure improvements and come up with possible amendments to land use regulations.

Falmouth has master plans for commercial areas on Route 1 south of the turnpike spur and Route 100, on the west side of town, but no plan for Route 1 North.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 29.

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Outrage prompts Italy to alter funeral plans for earthquake victims http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/italy-alters-its-funeral-plans-after-outrage/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/italy-alters-its-funeral-plans-after-outrage/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:59:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/italy-alters-its-funeral-plans-after-outrage/ ROME — Italian quake survivors rebelled in anger Monday over the government’s plan to hold a state funeral for their loved ones in an airport hangar in a distant town, where scores of bodies are being kept in refrigerated trucks, and let them watch it on screens from near their emergency tent camp.

One relative of 7-year-old twins who perished in central Italy’s Aug. 24 quake was so upset by the announcement he could barely speak, holding up seven fingers when explaining how old the children were. The mayor of Amatrice, the hardest-hit of the three medieval towns flattened by the quake, was also upset.

“Give us back our dead!” yelled one man in the crowd of several dozen survivors.

Sensing a public relations disaster, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi’s government quickly reversed course, and he said the latest state funeral will take place Tuesday in the devastated Apennines hill town.

So far, 231 of the quake’s 292 victims have been found in Amatrice, with the toll rising by two Monday when two bodies were extracted from rubble.

The bodies of some 10 people, including that of the town’s baker, are believed to be still buried under the rubble of hundreds of buildings that collapsed, many reduced to piles of stones. Hundreds of people were injured.

Last week, a stream of ambulances brought more than 100 victims in body bags from Amatrice and another hard-hit town, Accumoli, to the airport at Rieti, 40 miles away. There they were being kept in refrigerated big-rig trucks parked in the hangar. Some relatives who live elsewhere in Italy had sent hearses with coffins to claim their loved one’s body for funerals elsewhere.

But nearly 80 bodies that families hoped would be buried near Amatrice or Accumoli remained at the hangar, and now, after the government relented, the corpses were going to be transferred back to the town.

Amatrice Mayor Sergio Pirozzi told a crowd that Renzi had just spoken with him by phone. “He granted the people’s appeal,” the mayor said.

Later, Renzi told state TV: “There were so many polemics, but it’s absolutely right the people be able to weep for their dear ones in their place, their village.”

Renzi’s office later announced that the premier had declared Tuesday as a day of national mourning. The funeral will be held at the edge of Amatrice’s obliterated medieval town center, on the grounds of a Catholic retreat home for elderly and others seeking a quiet respite in the mountains.

The same complex has a makeshift morgue, with about 10 corpses still inside awaiting official identification.

On Saturday, a first day of national mourning, a separate state funeral, for 35 victims was held in Ascoli Piceno, a town unscathed by the quake.

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Fairfield police close in on burglary suspects http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fairfield-police-close-in-on-burglary-suspects/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fairfield-police-close-in-on-burglary-suspects/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:55:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fairfield-police-close-in-on-burglary-suspects/ FAIRFIELD — Police are closing in on suspects in a string of car burglaries last year, while dealing with a new spate over the last 10 days.

There have been reports of about 16 car burglaries since Aug. 19 on downtown streets, according to Police Chief Tom Gould. Most are happening late at night and the burglars seem to be targeting unlocked vehicles, he said.

Burglaries occurred on Kelley, High, Main, Savage and West streets. Car windows were broken in some recent burglaries, he said.

Gould said his department just received results from DNA testing of evidence from last summer’s 40 car burglaries and may bring charges within the next two weeks.

The chief said a burglary spree like the recent one isn’t uncommon. It’s the second or third string of car burglaries he’s seen in Fairfield since he became police chief three years ago.

There were a large number of car burglaries last summer in Fairfield and Skowhegan from June to August. The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office worked with Fairfield and Skowhegan police to investigate the dozens of burglaries on Bigelow Hill Road, Six Rod Road and Center Road. Police believed the burglaries were related.

One string of burglaries involved seven cars that were all unlocked and burglarized early on June 17.

Police are reviewing video footage to narrow down the list of suspects in the recent burglaries. Gould said residents and businesses with exterior surveillance cameras should check their footage and call Officer Shanna Blodgett at 453-9322 if they see anything suspicious.

Gould also encouraged people whose cars have been burglarized but have not yet notified police to do so.

He said people should be careful to secure their cars and should report any suspicious activity to the police.

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FAA expects a surge of commercial drones as new rules take effect http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/faa-expects-a-surge-of-commercial-drones/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/faa-expects-a-surge-of-commercial-drones/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:41:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/faa-expects-a-surge-of-commercial-drones/ WASHINGTON —There will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them on Monday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate.

The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference.

Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. The agency responded by creating a system to grant exemptions to some of the rules for companies that show they can operate safely, Huerta said.

On the first day the rules were in effect the FAA had already granted 76 exemptions, most of them to companies that want to fly drones at night, Huerta said.

“With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said people are “captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer.” The few thousand commercial drones that had been granted waivers to operate before Monday have been used to monitor crops, inspect bridges and transmission lines, assist firefighters, film movies, and create real estate and wedding videos, among dozens of other uses.

In general, the new rules apply to drones weighing 55 pounds or less, and require commercial operators to:

 Keep the drone within sight at all times.

Keep drones from flying over people not involved in their operation.

Limit drone operations to the hours from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

Limit speed to no more than 100 mph.

Fly no higher than 400 feet.

Drone operators must also pass a test of their aeronautical knowledge administered by the FAA. More than 3,000 people had registered with the FAA to take the test as of Monday.

The Air Line Pilots Association complained that the new regulations are “missing a key component” because there’s no requirement that drone operators first have an FAA pilot license to fly a plane.

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Portland Democrats to host discussion on racism, inclusiveness http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/portland-democrats-to-host-discussion-on-racism-inclusiveness/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/portland-democrats-to-host-discussion-on-racism-inclusiveness/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 00:40:11 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/portland-democrats-to-host-discussion-on-racism-inclusiveness/ The Portland City Democratic Committee will host a panel discussion Thursday on racism and inclusiveness. The discussion is expected to include Gov. Paul LePage’s recent repeated comments about the racial makeup of drug dealers in Maine.

The event will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Reiche elementary school.

“When our governor goes on a racist tirade and calls people of color enemies of the state of Maine, you better believe that we’re going to fight hard to hold Gov. LePage accountable,” the committee wrote in an invitation sent Monday.

The discussion will be moderated by Danielle Conway, dean of the University of Maine School of Law. She will be joined by seven panelists from the Portland community: Mayor Ethan Strimling, the Rev. Kenneth Lewis, Rachel Talbot-Ross, Kate Knox, Ekhlas Ahmed, Sean Alonzo Harris and Samuel James.

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Westbrook residents voice support for $27 million school expansion http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/westbrook-council-hears-public-comment-on-27-million-school-expansion/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/westbrook-council-hears-public-comment-on-27-million-school-expansion/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:33:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/westbrook-council-hears-public-comment-on-27-million-school-expansion/ WESTBROOK — Residents spoke Monday night in support of a $27 million expansion at two Westbrook schools, but repeated their calls for a moratorium on housing development they said could strain the district.

The money would pay for a renovation and 12 new classrooms at Saccarappa Elementary School, as well as 12 new classrooms at Westbrook Middle School. The school committee voted unanimously in favor of the plan this month. The Westbrook City Council will need to have two public hearings before voting on the plan. About 20 residents showed up Monday night for the first; the second is scheduled for September.

If passed by the council, the bond will go to voters on the November ballot.

“Our building project is something that is absolutely necessary for the children who are in our schools right now, and the children who are coming to our community,” newly appointed Superintendent Peter Lancia said.

The city’s two other elementary schools – Congin and Canal — have been renovated in the last decade. City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Westbrook schools are at capacity, but the price tag for the construction might give pause to some in November.

“I don’t think there’s any question of the need for expansion,” he said last week. “I don’t know if they’ll be happy about the number.”

The six members of the public who spoke supported the project.

“I realize it is a big chunk of change, and we are all concerned about our taxes,” Cole Street resident Kathleen O’Neill-Lussier said. “However, education in this country and this city and this state still needs to be a priority.”

Ward 3 Councilor Anna Turcotte listed the challenges her two young children have experienced due to cramming at Saccarappa. Her son sometimes eats lunch in his classroom because the cafeteria can’t accommodate all the children, she said, and her daughter takes the bus to a different school for gym.

“They don’t know what’s not normal about that, because that’s what they’ve lived,” Turcotte said. “I think it does impede their education.”

In 2012, the school department closed Prides Corner School — and its 15 aging classrooms. In 2014, the City Council approved a sale of the building to a condominium developer. Fifth-graders moved to Westbrook Middle School, while elementary students were reshuffled throughout the district.

At the time, Prides Corner was in dire need of repair, and school officials said the district was experiencing a consistent decline in enrollment. From 2003 to 2009, the student population dropped from 2,688 to 2,390. The elementary schools alone shrank by 130 students during that period.

“Part of the rationale is, or was, how many school facilities do we want to maintain?” Bryant said.

That decline in enrollment, however, has reversed since then. For 2014, total district enrollment was back at 2,483. With 1,208 students in 2014, numbers for kindergarten through fifth grade are slightly higher than a decade ago. To accommodate those students, the district has added five portable classrooms at the elementary schools.

Bryant attributed that increase to a growing immigrant community in Westbrook, as well as new construction. Lancia has estimated 331 students could join the district by 2025, which factors in an ongoing housing boom in the city. Neighbors have pushed back on a major subdivision project, citing concern about its impact on already overcrowded schools.

On Monday night, some residents worried the planned expansion wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the city’s growth.

“It’s the dog chasing its tail,” Duck Pond Road resident Dale Perry said. “I think we need to control our growth. Don’t stop it. Just control it.”

Jessica Corriveau, who lives on Austin Street, echoed an earlier request for a 180-day moratorium on residential building permits, which residents have requested in order to revise Westbrook’s process for approving new construction. In particular, she and others advocated for a system of fees on developers to account for future impacts on public infrastructure like schools.

“It’s a Band-Aid on a wound,” she said. “I’m very upset that our city continues to give out permits to keep building when our schools are already overcrowded. … It seems like the city has the opportunity to ask (developers) to chip in.”

Rocco Risbara, president of Risbara Bros., said more than half of 146 apartments at his Blue Spruce Farm development are leased, and none have school-age children. He said charging a fee for an impact that might not exist is “unfair.”

“Our apartments simply don’t produce children,” he said.

If approved by voters, the renovation of the schools would be complete no sooner than 2018. In a report to the City Council, Lancia noted the school department would likely need to hire three new employees as a result of the expansion — an administrative assistant, a custodian and a cafeteria worker.

“Initially, the growth at Saccarappa would be addressed by reassigning teachers from other schools,” he wrote. “Any additional teaching positions would be requested through our annual budgeting process as enrollment increases.”

Documents related to the school expansion are available online as part of the City Council agenda and on the school department website. The second public hearing on the plan will take place during the council’s meeting Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at Westbrook High School.

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FBI investigates hacking of state election systems http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fbi-investigates-suspected-hacking-of-state-election-systems/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fbi-investigates-suspected-hacking-of-state-election-systems/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:17:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/fbi-investigates-suspected-hacking-of-state-election-systems/ Hackers targeted voter registration systems in Illinois and Arizona, and the FBI alerted Arizona officials in June that Russian hackers were behind the assault on the election system in that state.

The bureau told Arizona officials that the threat was “credible” and severe, ranking as “an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10,” said Matt Roberts, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

As a result, Secretary of State Michele Reagan shut down the state voter registration system for almost a week.

It turned out that the hackers did not succeed in compromising the state system or even any county system, but rather had managed to steal the user name and password for one Gila County elections official.

Nonetheless, the revelation comes amid news that the FBI is investigating suspected foreign hacks of state election computer systems, and this month warned states to be on the alert for intrusions.

In Illinois, officials discovered an intrusion into their state voter registration system in July.

The FBI’s Aug. 18 warning follows heightened concern over Russian hacks of Democratic Party organizations and possible meddling in the presidential election.

Although the hackers did not alter any data, the intrusion into the Illinois database marks the first succesful compromise of a state election database, federal officials said.

Until now, countries such as Russia and China have shown little interest in voting systems in the United States. But experts said that if a foreign government gains the ability to tamper with voter data, for instance by deleting registration records, such a hack could cast doubt on the legitimacy of U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, the recently discovered hacks have state officials across the country scrambling to ensure that their systems have not been compromised. At least two other states are looking into potential breaches, officials said.

“This was a highly sophisticated attack most likely from a foreign (international) entity,” said Kyle Thomas, director of voting and registration systems for the Illinois State Board of Elections, in a message that was sent to all election authorities in the state.

In July, officials in that state discovered the intrusion, in which hackers were able to retrieve voter records. The amount accessed was “a fairly small percentage of the total,” said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board.

State officials alerted the FBI, he said. The Department of Homeland Security also got involved, he said. The intrusion led the state election board to shut down the voter registration system for a week.

In June, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office shut down part of its website after the FBI found a potential threat to its state voter registration system, according to the Arizona Republic.

Following those breaches, the FBI issued its “flash” alert, which listed Internet protocol addresses and other technical fingerprints associated with the hacks.

“The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” said the FBI alert, which was first reported by Yahoo News.

The FBI declined official comment other than to note it “routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators” it turns up in investigations.

The bureau has told Illinois officials that they’re looking at possible foreign government agencies as well as criminal hackers, Menzel said.

The technical details in the alert were gathered by the MS-ISAC, a multi-state information-sharing center that helps state, local and tribal government agencies combat cyber threats and that works with federal law enforcement agencies.

“I’m less concerned about the attackers getting access to and downloading the information,” said Brian Kalkin, vice president of operations for the Center for Internet Security, which operates the MS-ISAC. “I’m more concerned about the information being altered, modified or deleted. That’s where the real potential is for any sort of meddling in the election.”

And James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, has told Congress that manipulation or deletion of data is the next big cyber threat – “the next push on the envelope.”

But Tom Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, an agency set up by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to maintain election integrity, said he is confident that states have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure efforts at manipulation will be unsuccesful.

For one, he said, if a voter’s name does not show up on the list, the individual can still cast a provision ballot and once his or her status is confirmed, the ballot will be counted. Also, he said, in general the voting systems themselves “are not hooked up to the Internet” and so “there’s not going to be any manipulation of data.”

Nonetheless, more than 30 states have some provisions for online voting, primarily for voters living overseas or serving in the military. An official at the Department of Homeland Security cautioned this spring that online voting is not yet secure.

“We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters’ expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security of their votes and provides an avenue for malicious actors to manipulate the voting results,” said Neil Jenkins, an official in the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

Some private-sector researchers say some of the information released by the FBI points to a potential Russian link, but they caution that their work is preliminary. Rich Barger, chief information officer at ThreatConnect, said that several of the IP addresses trace back to a website-hosting service called King Servers that offers Russia-based technical support. He also said that one of the methods used was similar to a tactic in other intrusions suspected of being carried out by the Russian government, including one this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“The very fact that (someone) has rattled the doorknobs, the very fact that the state election commissions are in the cross-hairs gives grounds to the average American voter to wonder: Can they really trust the results?” Barger said.

On Aug. 15, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state election officials, offering the Department of Homeland Security’s assistance in protecting against cyberattacks.

He said that DHS was “not aware of any specific or credible cybersecurity threats relating to the upcoming general election systems,” according to a readout of the call. It was not clear whether he was aware at the time of the FBI’s investigation into the Arizona and Illinois intrusions.

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Oil spill response ship pulled from service as Portland pipeline deliveries slow http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-responder-pulled-from-service-as-portland-pipeline-oil-deliveries-slow/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-responder-pulled-from-service-as-portland-pipeline-oil-deliveries-slow/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:09:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-responder-pulled-from-service-as-portland-pipeline-oil-deliveries-slow/ The Maine Responder, a massive pollution-control vessel that has been moored in Portland Harbor for more than two decades, has been pulled from service because its operator has lost funding and the risk of an oil spill in the region has dropped because of declining tanker traffic to the Portland Pipe Line Corp.

News of the change Monday surprised many who work to ensure the safe operation of the harbor and are concerned about protecting Casco Bay and shipping routes that the vessel has covered from Maine to Massachusetts and beyond.

The Marine Spill Response Corp. of Herndon, Virginia, confirmed Monday that the 210-foot-long vessel, which has docked in Portland since 1995, had been removed from service and its six crew members had been told they will lose their jobs.

Marine Spill Response will keep the boat in the water at Union Wharf and will continue to operate 10 other spill-response vessels, so several shipping companies and other facilities in the area that contract for its services will be able to maintain Coast Guard-approved spill-response plans, said company spokeswoman Judith Roos.

“(The Maine Responder) is being removed from active service as of today,” Roos said in a phone interview while in Portland. “We will continue to be able to meet our customers’ planning obligations in this sector even without the Maine Responder.”

Roos said the harbor has a “lower risk profile” because “trading patterns have shifted” in recent years, but she declined to draw a direct connection to the dwindling flow of the Portland Pipe Line, which delivers foreign crude from its ocean terminal in South Portland to refineries in Montreal.

“There are fewer tanker vessels trading into this area,” Roos said. “The (Maine Responder) will be deactivated with the potential to be reactivated should trading patterns change.”

Roos wouldn’t say how much it cost to operate the Maine Responder.

Peter Milholland, longtime staff member at Friends of Casco Bay, called the decision to suspend the service “shocking.” As pilot of the organization’s baykeeper’s boat, Milholland has participated in numerous spill-response drills and assisted in the cleanup after the 1996 crash of the tanker Julie N, which dumped 170,000 gallons of oil into the harbor after striking the former Portland Bridge.

“It will be a big loss to our area,” Milholland said. “There are a lot of other threats to our waters. There are other vessels that come through with other (petroleum) products, and lots of other boats with the potential for having problems, including cruise ships.”

CRUDE OIL DELIVERIES FALLING

The pipeline has nearly shut down in recent months as demand for foreign crude has fallen in the wake of booming tar sands oil production in Alberta, Canada. The pipeline received no oil deliveries from January through May this year, then took in nearly 1.4 million barrels in June, according to the latest data available from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Pipeline officials declined to provide recent shipping data, so it’s unknown whether additional crude deliveries arrived in July and August. The pipeline transported more than 22 million barrels in 2015, down from 32.6 million barrels in 2014, according to the DEP.

“(The pipeline) remains open for business, supporting its customers, the community (and) employees … and continuing the safe and excellent operation it has long been known for,” spokesman Jim Merrill said in a prepared statement.

Merrill noted that the pipeline company has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of South Portland, challenging its 2014 ban on crude oil exports, a measure intended to protect air quality that also effectively stops the pipeline company from possibly reversing its flow in order to export tar sands oil from Canada.

The Marine Spill Response Corp. is a nonprofit, Coast Guard-classified “oil spill removal organization,” according to the company’s website. It was formed after the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which was passed by Congress following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. It is the largest emergency response organization of its kind in the U.S., offering oil spill cleanup services that mitigate environmental damage.

Shipping and trading companies that belong to the Marine Preservation Association, a separate nonprofit membership corporation, contribute a certain percentage of their receipts to operate the company and meet its capital needs.

HONORING LEASE AT UNION WHARF

Marine Spill Response has held a lease at Union Wharf for 21 years, said Charlie Poole, president of the Proprietors of Union Wharf.

Poole declined to comment on the company’s plans for the Maine Responder, other than to say that “they have a lease and they have honored their lease.”

The Maine Responder is one of 15 responder-class oil spill vessels operated by the Marine Spill Response Corp. across the U.S. In addition to a helipad, it has radar technology and infrared cameras that can detect oil in the water, hauls a 2,640-foot oil-containment boom and is capable of skimming and recovering 444,000 gallons of oil and water per day. The nearest vessel of its kind is in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, also operated by Marine Spill Response.

Crew members of the Maine Responder could fill job openings elsewhere in the company, Roos said. The company will keep five staff members in Portland. Vessels still operating out of Union Wharf include an MSRC 620 skimming barge and a 30-foot Kvichak Marco skimming vessel.

Wyman Briggs, the spill response preparedness specialist with the Coast Guard in South Portland, was among several local officials who were surprised to learn about the Maine Responder’s fate.

“It’s an unfortunate loss,” Briggs said. “It’s a very capable vessel. There’s not another one of its size in this area. Obviously we always prefer to have more response capability.”

Briggs said the Coast Guard will likely review the spill response plans of companies who have contracted for the services of Marine Spill Response.

Milholland noted that several other agencies also provide spill-response services, including the Coast Guard, the DEP and private contractors, such as Clean Harbors.

Acting Harbor Master Kevin Battle and South Portland Fire Chief Jim Wilson also were surprised to learn that the Maine Responder was being pulled from service.

Wilson said regional officials were scheduled to hold a tabletop spill-response drill Sept. 7. Now they’ll have a new factor to consider.

“Anytime you reduce a capability to respond, you have to make sure you can still respond adequately,” Wilson said. “We’ll probably get a good idea of the change in our capability when we meet next month.”

Staff Writer Penelope Overton contributed to this report.

 

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New school opens at site of Sandy Hook shootings http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/new-school-opens-at-site-of-sandy-hook-shootings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/new-school-opens-at-site-of-sandy-hook-shootings/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:59:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/new-school-opens-at-site-of-sandy-hook-shootings/ HARTFORD, Conn. — Elementary school students attended school in Sandy Hook on Monday for the first time since a shooting rampage there killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Joseph Erardi, Newtown’s School Superintendent, said it was a great and uneventful day for the just under 400 students at the new 86,000-square-foot Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was built to replace the one torn down after the December 2012 shooting.

“I spent all day there and it felt the way that it should feel,” he said. “Students were excited to be there.”

The $50 million replacement was built on the same property as the former school, but not in the old footprint. All that remains are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that also sat outside the old building.

About 70 current students attended the Sandy Hook Elementary School when the shooting occurred. School officials say about 35 of them were in the building at the time, but none witnessed the shootings. Those students, who were all in kindergarten at the time, are now fourth-graders.

Erardi said he visited all of their classrooms and there were no issues.

Because of retirements and transfers, about 60 percent of the staff members from the original Sandy Hook are still with the school. Others left through retirement or job changes, and a handful chose to transfer as part of their recovery process, Erardi said

He credited parents for creating a smooth first day back for students, noting the vast majority of families took the time to tour the new school in advance of opening day to prepare the children.

“It was a back to business first day,” he said. “There was nothing extraordinary that took place with announcements with any type of ceremonies. Just off the bus and let’s go to work.”

After the shooting, Sandy Hook students attended a school in neighboring Monroe, which renovated a previously closed elementary school to serve as a temporary home for them.

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Maine man makes court appearance after being bitten by police dog http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-man-makes-court-appearance-after-being-bitten-by-police-dog/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-man-makes-court-appearance-after-being-bitten-by-police-dog/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:57:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/maine-man-makes-court-appearance-after-being-bitten-by-police-dog/ AUGUSTA — A man who fled into the woods in China late Saturday after allegedly threatening to kill family members with a screwdriver went before a judge Monday via video from the Kennebec County jail.

Dwayne A. Kuse, 46, was arrested in the woods near the home after a police dog tracked him and bit him.

Kuse was treated at the Augusta hospital for bite wounds before being brought to the Kennebec County jail early Sunday.

According to an affidavit by Sgt. Jacob Pierce of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, police responded to a Mann Road address after a woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was intoxicated, pushed her and “threatened to stab everyone at the residence with the screwdriver and that he was holding it in a threatening manner.” There were seven people at the home, including Kuse.

The woman called again to say Kuse was hollering in the driveway “that he was going to kill everyone and to ‘come find me.'” Later, she called to say he was yelling, “I’m going to slice your throats tonight.” She also said there was a loaded handgun in the home.

Kuse then fled into the garage and finally into the woods.

He was located in the woods, according to the report, and was bitten by Maine State Police Trooper G. J. Neagle’s dog, Draco.

Kuse was treated on site for the bite wounds and then taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center.

State police Sgt. Scott Dalton, who runs the K-9 Training Center at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, said Monday, “Apprehension canines are trained to bite and hold suspects.”

Pierce wrote that Kuse hollered at him during the ride to the jail and again threatened to kill people, including Pierce, after he was released.

“He threatened to kill the officer by putting a bullet between his eyes,” Assistant District Attorney Alisa Ross told Judge Evert Fowle at Monday’s hearing in the Capital Judicial Center, adding, “Alcohol was certainly a factor.”

Attorney Dennis Jones, serving as lawyer of the day, represented Kuse at the hearing and said, “There’s no question alcohol was involved. I believe there was serious intoxication.”

However, Jones sought a lower bail amount of $1,000 cash with a Maine Pretrial Services contract, saying Kuse hopes to get admitted to a detoxification unit at the VA Maine Healthcare System at Togus.

Jones said Kuse is a longtime employee of Togus, a homeowner and previously completed a probationary period successfully.

Kuse was held without bail over the weekend. On Monday, Fowle set bail at $5,000 cash or alternatively at $1,500 cash with a Maine Pretrial Services contract. Bail conditions prohibit Kuse from contact with his ex-girlfriend, from being anywhere in the town of China, and from using alcohol and illegal drugs.

Kuse did not answer to the charge of domestic violence criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a felony which would have to be presented to a grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to two related misdemeanor charges, domestic violence assault and domestic violence terrorizing.

Newspaper records indicate Kuse graduated from the Co-Occurring Disorders and Veterans Court, a specialty court aimed at helping defendants with mental health and substance abuse problems, in December 2014. He was admitted to the veterans court program, which operated out of Kennebec Superior Court, on Oct. 18, 2013, about eight months after he was charged with assault in South China.

After successfully completing that program, he was sentenced in January 2015 to 364 days in jail with all but 10 days suspended, to be served in the alternative sentencing program, and one year probation.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @betadams

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Developer scales back plans for Blue Spruce Farm subdivision in Westbrook http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/developer-scales-back-plans-for-westbrook-subdivision/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/developer-scales-back-plans-for-westbrook-subdivision/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:56:39 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/developer-scales-back-plans-for-westbrook-subdivision/ A developer will scale back plans for a controversial housing complex in Westbrook because of a legal conflict with a landowner.

Risbara Bros. is already building nearly 200 single-family homes and apartments at Blue Spruce Farm on Spring Street. In response to high demand, the company applied to extend the subdivision by more than 300 units, mostly apartments.

Worried that the housing boom might strain the city’s roads and schools, some neighbors have called for a 180-day moratorium on residential building permits. Despite those concerns, the second phase of Blue Spruce Farm was on track for approval by the Planning Board this fall.

On Friday, however, company president Rocco Risbara penned a letter to the city to withdraw the current layout. “We will not be moving forward with the project as presented,” he wrote.

The land for the proposed second phase is owned by two separate entities – Westbrook Land Co. and resident Daniel Chick. Westbrook Land Co. is tied to a property management group in Massachusetts, according to property records.

Both properties are under option to Risbara Bros., but the company’s letter to the city suggests Westbrook Land Co. has backed out of the deal for its 29 acres. It is unclear what has caused the dispute, or whether it is related to concerns from residents.

“Due to the fact that the sellers of the Westbrook Land Company have breached the contract by refusing to close, we have been forced to file a lawsuit to compel their performance,” Risbara wrote.

That legal battle could take months or even years. If the land does become available, Risbara wrote that the company would consider it for additional development.

In the meantime, Risbara said development will move forward on the Chick parcel, which abuts the existing neighborhood. While the original proposal included 13 single-family homes, 40 condominiums and 250 market-rate apartments, the revised plans could include slightly more than 100 apartments. The new plans will likely call for nine buildings on 13 acres of land, according to Risbara’s letter.

The developer said redrawing the plans will allow Risbara Bros. to address some of the neighbors’ concerns, including cutting out a proposed public road.

“Buffering to existing neighborhood areas will be increased and easier to achieve with this plan as well,” Risbara wrote.

Bill Risbara, one of the company’s owners, did not return a call for comment Monday. The company will submit new plans to the city in coming weeks.

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EpiPen maker says it will offer half-price alternative http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/epipen-maker-says-it-will-offer-half-price-alternative/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/epipen-maker-says-it-will-offer-half-price-alternative/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2016 22:41:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/29/epipen-maker-says-it-will-offer-half-price-alternative/ EpiPen maker Mylan said Monday that it would introduce a generic version of the lifesaving allergy injection at half the price of the brand-name product, after politicians denounced the company for a drug coupon program seen as a public relations Band-aid.

The generic, which the company said will be launched “in several weeks,” will carry a list price of $300 for a two-pack carton. That is half the list price for the branded product, which costs $608 for a two-pack, but it is still nearly $40 more than the price three years ago, according to data from Truven Health Analytics.

“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch said in a written statement. “Our decision to launch a generic alternative to EpiPen is an extraordinary commercial response.”

Joshua Sharfstein, a professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, called it a face-saving move by the company. The generic offers a way of dropping the price of one version of the drug, while also bringing the company some benefits. It will allow Mylan to segment the market, because some people will continue to buy the brand-name product.

Sharfstein said one important question will be whether the price stays the same over time.

The introduction of Mylan’s generic also won’t automatically open the window to true competition from other generic companies, said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School. Companies can introduce generics of their brand-name drugs, called “authorized generics,” but the effect on competition is ambiguous, he said.

“We have more competition than we did yesterday, but on the other hand, we don’t have wide-open competition among the generics,” Carrier said. “And maybe by having this authorized generic, we’re keeping at bay some of that true competition.”

He noted that when the first generic drug enters the market, it usually gets a very shallow discount off the brand-name list price – maybe 5 percent or 10 percent. It is only when multiple generics enter that deeper discounts occur. The deep initial discount off the brand-name price could make the market less attractive to generics companies.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has been trying to launch a generic version of the drug, but it was rejected by regulators earlier this year for “certain major deficiencies,” according to a spokeswoman. The product launch has been delayed until at least 2017.

Public Citizen, a patient advocacy group, noted that not everyone will get access to the generic, making it an incomplete solution to the high price – similar to the critique leveled at the coupons and patient assistance.

“The weirdness of a generic drug company offering a generic version of its own branded but off-patent product is a signal that something is wrong,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said in a written statement. Mylan “aims to continue ripping off some segment of the marketplace – both consumers who do not trust or know about the generic, and perhaps some insurers and payers constrained from buying a generic.”

He noted that the price in Canada is $200 for a two-pack of EpiPens and the price in France is even lower.

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