News – Press Herald Mon, 25 Jun 2018 17:29:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trump tweet attacks restaurant that asked Huckabee Sanders to leave Mon, 25 Jun 2018 17:07:20 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out Monday at a Virginia restaurant that refused to serve his press secretary, writing on Twitter that the Red Hen has “filthy canopies, doors and windows” and “badly needs a paint job.”

The president’s attack on the exterior of the tiny farm-to-table establishment came in response to an incident Friday night in which its owner asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave on grounds that she worked for an “inhumane and unethical” administration.

Sanders had been out for dinner with friends, the cheese course already on the table, when owner Stephanie Wilkinson took her aside and requested that she leave the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia.

“The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” Trump said in his Monday tweet. “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”

The Red Hen Restaurant displayed a brief message near its entrance Saturday, by way of explaining its decision to not serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photo by Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP

Trump, who has described himself as a germaphobe, remained uncharacteristically silent about the episode over the weekend, even as it became the talk of social media and cable television, and he tweeted about other subjects.

Sanders took to her government Twitter account on Saturday to explain that she had “politely left” when asked.

“Her actions say far more about her than about me,” Sanders said of Wilkinson. “I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Sanders, who provides on-camera briefings to the White House press corps, became the latest member of the Trump administration to be subject to scorn while out in public in a private capacity.

Passers-by gather to take photos in front of the Red Hen Restaurant on Saturday in Lexington, Va. Associated Press/Daniel Lin

Hecklers recently shouted “Shame!” at Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a public face of Trump’s immigration policies, hastening her departure from a Mexican restaurant near the White House last week.

And Trump adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller also was confronted at a restaurant last week and called a “fascist.”

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has urged the public to continue such public harassment.

Later Monday morning, Trump returned to Twitter to share an assessment of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., about the recent incidents.

“Trump haters still haven’t realized how much they help him with their condescension of those who either voted for him or don’t share their hatred of him,” Rubio said on Twitter. “And how much they help him with their irrational hostility towards those who work for him.”

The Post’s Mary Jordan contributed to this report.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2018 13:29:55 +0000
Gas prices falling in northern New England Mon, 25 Jun 2018 16:27:01 +0000 CONCORD, N.H. — Gas prices are still going down in northern New England.

GasBuddy’s daily survey of gas outlets in Maine found that average retail gasoline prices in the state have gone down 4.8 cents per gallon in the past week, to an average of $2.83 per gallon. Prices in New Hampshire have decreased 2.9 cents per gallon to an average of $2.81 per gallon. In Vermont, prices have gone down 1.5 cents per gallon to an average price of $2.90.

The national average is $2.83 per gallon. It’s dropped 14.1 cents per gallon in the last month and stands 58.1 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

]]> 0 his image reflects on the side of a pickup truck, attendant Matthew Legere pumps gas for a customer Tuesday at Rinaldi Energy in Saco. The full-service station's price of $2.69 for regular unleaded was slightly below the statewide average price of $2.71 for regular.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:28:49 +0000
Maine Med submits plans for new employee parking garage, part of $512 million expansion Mon, 25 Jun 2018 16:10:00 +0000 Maine Medical Center’s $512 million expansion project is moving ahead with the second phase of its construction plans – a new 2,450-space employee parking garage at 222 St. John Street.

The Portland hospital announced on Monday that it has submitted plans to the city planning board for the staff garage, with construction set to begin this fall.

Maine Med is currently working on the first phase of its expansion, including adding three floors to the visitor garage and building two floors at the hospital’s East Tower. The East Tower will have 64 new oncology rooms and be the new site of the helipad.

Construction of the employee garage is expected to begin this fall and be completed by late 2019. Demolition of the existing employee garage on Gilman Street would start in 2020, according to hospital officials.

The demolition of the employee garage will make way for the hospital expansion project’s 270,000-square-foot addition that will include a new entranceway and patient rooms. Maine Med’s building footprint will increase by about 25 percent when the project is completed in 2023.

The expansion will add 128 new single-occupancy patient rooms and 19 procedure rooms for surgery and other treatments. The total patient capacity at Maine Med – 637 beds – will not change because rooms are being converted from double occupancy to single occupancy.

Single-occupancy is now considered the standard of care at hospitals, to help prevent infections and for patient safety and comfort.

“This new parking garage will benefit all our colleagues by providing safe, efficient and predictable parking for all who need it,” said Jeff Sanders, Maine Med’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “It will also allow us to significantly reconfigure the footprint of our main campus, removing an aging parking structure and replacing it with a state-of-the-art medical building that will enhance our quality of care, improve our capacity and help us pursue our vision of working together to ensure our communities are the healthiest in America.”

This story will be updated.

]]> 0 for Maine Medical Center's proposed site plan for staff parking garage on St. John St. (Courtesy of Maine Medical Center)Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:12:34 +0000
NOAA chief suggests removing ‘climate’ from mission statement, adding focus on trade deficit Mon, 25 Jun 2018 15:41:36 +0000 A recent presentation by the acting head of the United States’ top weather and oceans agency suggested removing the study of “climate” from its official mission statement, focusing the agency’s work instead on economic goals and “homeland and national security.”

Critics say this would upend the mission of the $5.9 billion National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the administration disputes that interpretation, saying the presentation did not intend to create a change of direction at a vast agency that tracks hurricanes and atmospheric carbon dioxide, operates weather satellites, manages marine reserves and protects endangered ocean species, among other functions.

NOAA’s mission, the agency currently says, is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

But in a presentation at a Department of Commerce “Vision Setting Summit” earlier this month, Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet, the agency’s acting administrator, suggested a change to that mission statement, as well as a new emphasis on tripling the size of the U.S. aquaculture industry within a decade and moving to “reduce the seafood trade deficit.”

The new NOAA mission, the presentation said, would be “to observe, understand and predict atmospheric and ocean conditions, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security.”

“This presentation is a simplified draft for discussion,” said Gallaudet, an oceanographer who has spoken in the past about climate change’s effects on the Arctic, in a statement provided by the agency. “It was not intended to create change in NOAA mission or policy from what it was before. Any interpretation to the contrary is simply inaccurate.”

But the proposed removal of language about studying the “climate” and about the managing of coastal and marine resources has aroused considerable ire and concern.

“Elections have consequences,” said David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and the former chief operating officer of NOAA. “This is just another example of where the Trump administration is frankly emphasizing short-term aspects, such as economic growth, and de-emphasizing longer term challenges, things that will be most apparent after their term, such as impacts on climate, conservation of marine resources.”

The presentation was first revealed by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The new mission statement outlined in the presentation still calls for studying “atmospheric and ocean conditions” – which would by influenced climate change. And unlike some other top Trump administration officials, Gallaudet – a retired Navy rear admiral with a doctorate in oceanography – has not publicly questioned the link between human activity and climate change.

Late last year, at a scientific conference in New Orleans, he introduced a presentation by NOAA scientists of their findings about the fast-changing Arctic.

Gallaudet said then that for those operating vessels in the Arctic, the environment is “the most hazardous [that] they’ve ever reported” because of changing ice conditions.

His recent presentation lists developing the best weather-prediction model in the world as a top priority but does not highlight its climate programs or initiatives.

It has prompted an outcry from some prominent scientists, including NOAA’s first administrator under President Obama.

“This unraveling of NOAA’s core mission ignores the best interests of the American people, core Congressionally mandated responsibilities, overwhelming scientific evidence, and plain common sense,” said Jane Lubchenco, who held that post under Obama and is a marine scientist at Oregon State University, in a statement.

“NOAA’s core mission integrates the dual mandates of ‘observe and predict’ with ‘conserve and manage,’ ” Lubchenco added. “The two functions are highly interdependent. Eliminating multiple parts of both of them guts the whole agency and compromises its remaining functions. Eliminating basic functions of NOAA is foolhardy, ignorant, shortsighted, and very stupid. It’s akin to removing multiple vital organs from a body and expecting it to remain healthy.”

Lubchenco also said that under the new proposal some of the agency’s congressional mandates could be “blatantly ignored or eliminated.”

“It’s a focus totally on economic development, and very little on preserving public trust resources,” added Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a former regional administrator at NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, of the presentation.

“That concerns me, especially with all the progress we’ve made on fisheries.”

Rosenberg said he doubted that U.S. aquaculture could grow dramatically, given all the other current uses of and demands on coastal real estate. As for lowering the country’s trade deficit in seafood, he said, “it’s just not going to happen.”

In 2017, according to NOAA, the United States imported $21.5 billion worth of seafood products but exported only $5.4 billion worth.

It is unclear how the Trump administration could change that. So far, if anything, the president’s trade actions may be triggering movement in the opposite direction. China has recently proposed a 25 percent tariff on one major U.S. seafood export, lobsters.

Also unclear is how any proposed reorganization or redirection of NOAA would meld with the ideas of its proposed leader – or whether that individual will even be confirmed by the Senate in time to have a say.

Gallaudet is the acting administrator and was confirmed to be NOAA’s second-in-command. The reason he is running the agency at present is that President Trump’s nominee, AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers, remains unconfirmed.

The agency has been without a Senate-confirmed head since Trump took office, even as the administration has proposed steep NOAA budget cuts that have, thus far, been rejected by Congress.

]]> 0 visible image of Hurricane Harvey taken from NOAA’s GOES East satellite on Aug. 25 at 10:07 a.m. EDT (1407 UTC) clearly showed the storm’s eye as the storm nears landfall in the southeastern coast of Texas. Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project From:, 25 Jun 2018 12:45:04 +0000
Roseanne Barr breaks down sobbing in interview after racist tweet: ‘I’ve lost everything’ Mon, 25 Jun 2018 14:14:35 +0000 An interview Roseanne Barr gave to a celebrity rabbi in the days after her infamous twitter rant was released Sunday, showing a weeping Barr pleading for forgiveness and saying “I’m not a racist. I’m an idiot.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach released the emotional podcast interview, Barr’s first since ABC canceled the show “Roseanne.” Boteach, a longtime spiritual adviser for Barr, asked her why she would write something that was in such “complete contravention” of her Jewish values.

“I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff,” Barr said, sobbing. “But I’m not stupid for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person. . . a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me.”

Barr reiterated her explanation that she was medicated with the sleep drug Ambien when she posted the tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, to an ape. The tweet in late May read: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

Barr told Boteach that she did not know Jarrett was black, an assertion she has also made publicly.

“When ABC called me and said ‘what is the reason for your egregious racism,’ I said, ‘Oh my God, it is a form of racism,'” Barr said. “I guess I didn’t know she was black, and I’ll cop to it, but I thought she was white.”

“But you still regret and don’t excuse what you wrote,” asked Boteach, who said he has been friends with Barr for two decades.

“Of course, no I don’t excuse it. I horribly regret it. Are you kidding? I lost everything, and I regretted it before I lost everything,” Barr responded. “And I said to God, ‘I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong. I’m willing to accept what the consequences are.'”

Barr added that many refuse to accept her apology. “I’ve made myself a hate magnet,” she said.

After Barr’s tweet about Jarrett, ABC shut down the revival “Roseanne” series starring the comedian. When Barr blamed the tweet on Ambien, the company that produces the drug responded saying, “racism is not a known side effect” of any of its medications.

Last week, three weeks after ABC abruptly canceled the show, the network said it has ordered a spinoff centered on the same family, but without Barr attached. The working title is “The Conners.”

Boteach, who The Post once called “America’s most famous rabbi,” has been a spiritual guide for the likes of Michael Jackson and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. In releasing the podcast interview Sunday, he praised Barr for her “incredibly public and passionate commitment to Judaism.”

After Barr’s Twitter rant, Boteach said he “reached out to her and told her that she has a responsibility, in the name of repentance and her commitment to Judaism, to make this right.” In the interview, he asked her to affirm that she believes in the Torah values that “every human being is created equally in the image of God.”

Breaking down in tears, Barr spoke of her intense remorse: “After your heart is unfrozen and after it stops being broken from the pain you caused others, you stop being a robot and you’ve got to come back to God.”

Barr said what she did makes her “sick.” “I can’t defend it. I don’t want to defend it,” she said. The actress said she had been trying to call Jarrett to apologize to her personally.

“I caused a lot of pain. I know that, and that’s the worse feeling in the world,” she said. “I caused pain for my family, I caused pain for my mother, I caused pain to the 200 out-of-work actors that I loved, and the crew and writers. I feel so bad that they gave me another chance and I blew it.”

“But I did it,” she added. “And what can I do now except for say. . . I’m not a racist, I’m an idiot. And I might have done something that comes across as bigoted and ignorant, and I know that that’s how it came across. And you know, I just ask for forgiveness because I do love all people, I really do.”

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2018 10:28:13 +0000
Supreme Court declines to hear ‘Making a Murderer’ case Mon, 25 Jun 2018 13:42:49 +0000 WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday it won’t weigh in on the case of a teenager convicted of rape and murder whose story was documented in the Netflix series “Making a Murderer.”

As is typical, the justices did not explain their decision declining to take the case. The justices’ decision leaves in place a lower court ruling against Brendan Dassey.

Dassey was 16 years old when he confessed to Wisconsin authorities that he had joined his uncle in raping and murdering photographer Teresa Halbach before burning her body in a bonfire. Dassey’s attorneys, however, say he’s borderline intellectually disabled and was manipulated by experienced police officers into accepting their story of how Halbach’s murder happened. They wanted his confession thrown out and a new trial.

Wisconsin officials had urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, telling the court it shouldn’t second-guess Wisconsin courts’ determination that Dassey’s confession was voluntary. Prosecutors noted that Dassey’s mother gave investigators permission to speak with him, that Dassey agreed as well and that during the interview investigators used only standard techniques such as adopting a sympathetic tone and encouraging honesty.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement that his office was “pleased” with the Supreme Court’s decision not to take the case. “We hope the family and friends of Ms. Halbach can find comfort in knowing this ordeal has finally come to a close,” he said.

Dassey’s attorneys can still try to get him a new trial but they’d have to convince a judge that newly discovered evidence warrants one.

“We will continue to fight to free Brendan Dassey,” Dassey attorney Laura Nirider said in a statement after the Supreme Court announced its decision not to hear the case.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes as there are plans for a second season of “Making a Murderer,” which premiered on Netflix in 2015. Viewers of the first season were introduced to Dassey’s uncle, Steven Avery, who spent 18 years in prison for a rape before DNA testing exonerated him. After his release, he filed a multi-million dollar civil suit over his conviction, but in 2005 as that lawsuit was pending he was arrested for and later convicted of Halbach’s murder. Avery maintains he was framed.

At Dassey’s separate trial, video of him speaking with investigators and confessing to participating in Halbach’s rape and murder played a central role. Authorities had no physical evidence tying Dassey to the crimes, and he testified that his confession was “made up” but a jury convicted him. He’s eligible for parole in 2048.

While Wisconsin courts ruled Dassey’s confession was voluntary, a federal magistrate judge and a three-judge appeals court panel disagreed, saying he should be retried or released from prison. Then, in late 2017, the full appeals court ruled 4-3 that the state courts’ determination that Dassey’s confession was voluntary was reasonable, meaning no release or retrial. The Supreme Court’s announcement it wouldn’t take the case left that decision in place.

]]> 0 - In this Friday, March 3, 2006 photo, Brendan Dassey, 16, is escorted out of a Manitowoc County Circuit courtroom in Manitowoc, Wis. A federal court in Wisconsin on Friday overturned the conviction of Dassey, a man found guilty of helping his uncle kill Teresa Halbach in a case profiled in the Netflix documentary "Making a Murderer." (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)Mon, 25 Jun 2018 11:51:43 +0000
Possible panda pregnancy; paws crossed Mon, 25 Jun 2018 13:40:41 +0000 WASHINGTON — Paws are crossed at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, where a panda baby watch is underway.

Officials closed the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat on Sunday to give Mei Xiang some quiet time because she’s exhibiting behaviors that are in line with both a pregnancy and false pregnancy.

Keepers can’t confirm if she’s pregnant. However, Mei Xiang is building a nest near her den, has decreased appetite, is sleeping more and is reacting to loud noises.

The zoo says pandas can have pseudo pregnancies in which they do everything they would if they were pregnant. However, hormone levels and their behavior eventually return to normal.

Outdoor habitats and viewing areas remain open for people to see the zoo’s other pandas, Bei Bei and Tian Tian.

]]> 0 Xiang, mother of giant panda cub Bei Bei, eats Bei Bei's birthday cake at the National Zoo in Washington during a celebration of Bei Bei's first birthday in 2016. Officials closed the panda habitat on Sunday to give Mei Xiang some quiet time because she is exhibiting behaviors consistent with both a pregnancy and false pregnancy.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 09:43:38 +0000
‘He looked vicious’: Brunswick woman recounts rabid fox attack Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:41:29 +0000 BRUNSWICK — A woman who was attacked and bitten badly by a rabid fox recounted the experience in a recent interview.

The incident occurred June 17 when Barbara Senecal of Woodland Drive was walking to her mailbox to get her mail.

Senecal, 72, said she often sees wildlife on her morning walk, so she wasn’t afraid when she first noticed the animal.

“I saw the fox on the other side of the road,” Senecal said. “I saw his face and thought ‘he’s going to run away from me.’ ”

But suddenly “I see him bounding toward me and he looked vicious. I knew he was on to me,” she said.

Senecal said there was little she could do when the fox knocked her off her feet but to grab the fox’s neck and scream. She said her scream for help was also out of pain from the fox biting her legs and right arm.

“I started screaming even though I thought no one would be around to hear me,” said Senecal. “Suddenly a guy came out from a trailer, he had heard me scream.”

The neighbor, Phillip Allred, was able to wrestle the fox off Senecal and pin it down while she, despite her injuries, was able to get up and run back to her house to call for help.

“At that time I was fleeing, I didn’t even really think about it. As soon as I got inside I told my husband to call 911,” Senecal said. “He was so surprised I ended up doing it myself.”

Two police officers were dispatched to the scene, and one of them shot the fox. It later tested positive for rabies.

Senecal is now taking a series of shots to treat the rabies. She said her legs below the knees are giving her the most pain.

Allred was bitten on the hand and he also received rabies shots.

Senecal said she doesn’t intend to walk to her mailbox empty-handed again. She says she’ll carry her cellphone at the very least, and perhaps a baseball bat.

“I want people, all people, especially people walking down country roads to be aware of their surroundings,” said Senecal. “It’s been a quiet road for 15 years; you never know.”

It was the second incident in Brunswick involving a rabid animal in a week.

Police said on the morning of June 13, a woman on High Street let her dog outside where it got into a fight with a skunk.

“She was using the hose to try to keep the skunk at bay and make it leave, and it was not leaving,” Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson said.

Nelson and another animal control officer responded to the incident and were able to capture the animal. The skunk was euthanized and taken to Augusta, where it tested positive for rabies.

The owner’s dog and a neighborhood dog that also had come  into contact with the skunk were quarantined.

Police notified the public of both incidents via Facebook last Wednesday, a week after the first incident occurred.

“As a reminder, vaccinate your pets, do not approach wildlife and call the police if you see an animal acting aggressively,” the post read.

Rabies affects the brain and spinal cord, and is usually spread through a bite or scratch from a wild animal that has the virus. If left untreated it can lead to death.

Nelson noted that human contact with rabid animals is fairly rare, but does occasionally happen.

“The possibility is always there, whether we have reported cases or not,” she said. “There could be other animals out there.”

Nathan Strout:

Chris Quatrucci:

]]> 0 fox are commonly found in southern and central Maine, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Game wardens searched in Monmouth on Monday for a gray fox that is believed to be rabid.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 10:59:56 +0000
Harley-Davidson, stung by tariffs, shifting some production lines overseas Mon, 25 Jun 2018 11:43:39 +0000 MILWAUKEE — Harley-Davidson, up against spiraling costs from tariffs, will begin to shift the production of motorcycles headed for Europe from the U.S. to factories overseas.

The European Union on Friday began rolling out tariffs on American imports like bourbon, peanut butter and orange juice. The EU tariffs on $3.4 billion worth of U.S. products are retaliation for duties the Trump administration is imposing on European steel and aluminum.

President Trump has used Harley-Davidson as an example of a U.S. business that is being harmed by trade barriers. Yet Harley has warned consistently against tariffs, saying they would negatively impact sales.

Harley-Davidson Inc. sold almost 40,000 motorcycles in the European Union last year, generating revenue second only to the United States, according to the Milwaukee company.

The maker of the iconic American motorcycle said in a regulatory filing Monday that EU tariffs on its motorcycles exported from the U.S. jumped between 6 percent and 31 percent, which translates into an additional, incremental cost of about $2,200 per average motorcycle exported from the U.S. to the EU.

“Harley-Davidson maintains a strong commitment to U.S.-based manufacturing which is valued by riders globally,” the company said in prepared remarks. “Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson.”

Harley-Davidson will not raise its prices to avert “an immediate and lasting detrimental impact” on sales in Europe, it said. It will instead absorb a significant amount of the cost in the near term. It anticipates the cost for the rest of the year to be approximately $30 million to $45 million.

Harley-Davidson said that shifting targeted production from the U.S. to international facilities could take at least nine to 18 months to be completed.

The company is already struggling with falling sales. In January, it said it would consolidate its Kansas City, Missouri, plant into its York, Pennsylvania, facility. U.S. motorcycle sales peaked at more than 1.1 million in 2005 but then plummeted during the recession.

Asked about the Harley decision Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker addressed the issue of tariffs in general but not specifically the situation faced by the company.

“The ultimate goal, if we could get there, is no tariffs or if anything few tariffs on anything,” said Walker, a Republican. “That’s what I’m going to push for, ways that we can get to a level playing field then we don’t have this tit for tat on any number of products out there.”

Increasing foreign investment in the United States, something Walker was in Washington advocating for at a U.S. Department of Commerce event last week, will also help reduce the trade imbalance and need for tariffs, he said.

More potential pitfalls for Harley-Davidson and other U.S. manufacturers could be on the way.

Last week German automaker Daimler AG cut its 2018 earnings outlook, a change that it says is partly due to increased import tariffs for U.S. vehicles in China. Daimler produces vehicles in the U.S.

On Monday, the vice president of the European Union’s governing body said that Europe and China will form a group aimed at updating global trade rules to address technology policy, government subsidies and other emerging complaints in a bid to preserve support for international commerce.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said unilateral action by Trump in disputes over steel, China’s technology policy and other issues highlighted the need to modernize the World Trade Organization to reflect developments in the world economy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration plans to impose curbs on Chinese investment in American technology companies and high-tech exports to China.

Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this story from Madison, Wisconsin.

]]> 0 Harley-Davidson logo is seen on the fuel tank of a motorcycle on display at the Oakland Harley-Davidson dealership in Oakland, Calif.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 12:35:25 +0000
Briefs Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 PORTLAND

Sculpture at Eastern Prom trailhead spruced up

The Armillary Sphere that marks the trailhead of the Eastern Promenade at Commercial Street has been restored.

The Armillary was given to the city by the Portland Rotary Club and Portland Trails in 2001 to commemorate the club’s 85th anniversary. The sculpture and functioning sundial had weathered significantly since its installation.

To restore it, the city met with artist Patrick Plourde to discuss conservation methods. The city next power-washed the concrete surrounding the structure and coated the sculpture with a protective finish to reduce environmental staining.

The Portland Rotary Club plans to provide sustained maintenance on the structure.


School district celebrates retiring staff at luncheon

As the 2017-2018 school year came to a close, the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District paused to recognize retiring staffers and those celebrating milestone years of service to the district.

Those individuals were honored during a Celebration of Service to Education appreciation luncheon Tuesday at Wells Junior High School, where school officials spoke of individual contributions and each received a gift bag.

Retiring are Sandy Brennan, 44 years of service; Bruce Fearon, 39 years; Deb Howard, 27 years; Tari Matthews, 24 years; Adrienne Zwetsloot, 23 years; Cheryl Oakes; 22 years; Henry Ingwersen, 20 years; and Karen Westerberg, 14 years.

Recognized for 20 years of service to the district were Chris Milliken and Diane St. Onge.

Breakfast of Champions honors 58 primary schoolers

Wells Elementary School held its final Breakfast of Champions event for the 2017-18 school year, honoring 58 first- through fourth-graders for demonstrating one or more of the school’s core values.

Parents and guests attended the breakfast, where Principal April Noble invited each student to the stage to personally explain why each was picked for this honor. Each student received a certificate of recognition and a special sticker to wear.

Students recognized were:

Grade 4: Ragan Schank, Ronnie Delisle, Meghan Kaszubinski, Logan Lorello, Brydon Marcotte and Madison Webb.

Grade 3: Daniel Bell, Connor Brown, Michael Curtis, Isabelle Hamel, Sydney Orben, Jesse Pullen, Megan Roberts, Devyn Woodman, Summer Durham, Charlie Hamlyn, Malina Hoffman, Noah McDonough, Leo Orben, Elizabeth Randall, Ben Brown, Cameron Cole, Kaitlyn Daly, Francesca MacEwen, Eloise Ouellette, Isabella Randle, Thomas Spencer, and Tanner Tufts.

Grade 2: Colin Moody, Graeme Mertens, Grayson Mosher, Luke Boucher, Arianna Cogliano, Kayana Jacobson-Theriault, Jace Messer, Luke Heigelmann, Dylan Hudnall, Hannah Lilly, Sophia Ouellet, Raegan Petrus, Carson Vennard, and Ava Wheeler. Grade 1: Maverick Grover, Zoie Pelletier, Justin Spinney, Diana Krasteva, Kenzey Ricker-Geletka, Izabella Smith, Henry Bradish, Camellia Cantara, Robert Roche, Whitney Thomas, Joshua Watts, Sean Ahern, Vienna Cardinali, Logan Henry, Peyton Shepard, and Sophia Wilson.


Film festival’s program guide now available online

The Maine International Film Festival announced the release of its 2018 MIFF Program Guide at in advance of this year’s 21st annual event.

The guide contains a full list of festival films, with details on signature MIFF events and information on the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Dominique Sanda.

The festival will be held July 13-22.

Chamber rewards students for perfect attendance

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce presented 19 Albert S. Hall School students with awards for perfect attendance for the 2017-2018 school year.

To have perfect attendance each student must not be tardy, have no unexcused or excused absences, and not have early release.

Grade 4: Amelia Berls, Felix Chapa, Derek Couture, Caleb Crowley, Rylee Derosby, Jayda Dunn, Daniel Joler, and Trevor Tardif .

Grade 5: Jazlynn Bouchard, Garrett Gendreau, Xavier Hamlin, Mariska Maguire, Cassidy Mathieu, Joel Retamozzo, Cade Rogers and Tobin Thibeau.

All were given gifts donated by local businesses as well as a Kindle.

Also, Benjamin Kitchin, Jennie Parkhill, and Allexandriea Small completed their second consecutive year with perfect attendance. Each received a one-week summer campership to the Alfond Youth Center’s Camp Tracy.


Bank program donates $500 to Camp Marland

Sanford Savings Institution recently donated $500 to YMCA Camp Marland, as part of the bank’s employee donation program. It will be used to add or update accommodations and facilities at the camp.

Camp Marland, for children entering grades 2 through 7, is located on Bunganut Lake in Lyman.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:17:53 +0000
Events Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 KENNEBUNK

Brick Store Museum sets first member-guest day

The Brick Store Museum invites the public to its inaugural member-guest day, featuring free admission to view its collections and programs, from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at 117 Main St.

Maine State Historian Earle Shettleworth will give a free talk at 3 p.m., focusing on Maine’s part in World War I. The lecture is the keynote address after the annual report to the community by museum leadership.

Advance reservations for the talk are recommended.

To learn more, go to or call 985-4802.


Air National Guard Band to present concert Sunday

The Air National Guard Band of the Northeast will present a concert of wind band favorites at 1 p.m. Sunday at Wells Harbor Community Park at 331 Harbor Road.

The band consists of 40 members, all traditional Air National Guard members with civilian careers who meet one weekend a month to rehearse and perform.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Audubon hosting talk on birds of ABC islands

York County Audubon will host the talk “Land of the Prikichi: Birds of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao,” by Dr. Jeffrey Wells, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Wells Reserve at 342 Laudholm Farms Road.

The ABC islands, just off the coast of Venezuela, are home to a fascinating mix of birds.

Wells is an author of several bird books and also is the senior scientist for the Boreal Songbird Initiative and International Boreal Conservation Campaign. Come early for refreshments and social time. Free and open to the public


First art walk of season to start at 5 p.m. Thursday

The first Wiscasset Art Walk of the 2018 season will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the village center on the historical riverfront.

Walk through the open doors of artist-owned galleries, one-of-a-kind shops and exquisite antique venues. Enjoy good food at the lobster shacks, wine tasting at Treats, and munching on specialty items from food trucks.

The walks are held on the last Thursday of each month through Sept. 27.

For more details, go to or contact Lucia Droby at or Violet Brandwein at 917-327-1449.


Civil War expert to speak about Petersburg battle

A Joshua L. Chamberlain Civil War Round Table lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Morrell Room of Curtis Memorial Library at 23 Pleasant St.

Nationally known Civil War speaker and tour guide Will Greene will address the 1864 “Battle of the Crater, Petersburg.”

Come early for some end of the year socializing. Refreshments will be served beginning at 6:15 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public; donations are appreciated.


Strawberry Festival rolls around Thursday night

The 43rd annual New Gloucester Strawberry Festival will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Congregational Church Vestry, at 19 Gloucester Hill Road.

Fresh native berries, freshly made biscuits and Hodgman’s frozen custard will be served. The Berry Berry Good Band will perform. And, there also will be a baked goods table.

For more details, call Leonard L. Brooks at 926-3188.


‘Cars and Cocktails’ event to benefit historical society

The Arundel Historical Society will hold the benefit evening “Cars and Cocktails” from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the private Bentley Warren Antique Auto Museum on Old Post Road.

The evening will include food, cocktails, entertainment and live and silent auctions.

Tickets are $50 and all donations will benefit the AHS.

For tickets, contact Linda Zuke at or 468-9870.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:16:37 +0000
Births Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 ST. MARY’S REGIONAL HOSPITAL

Evelyn Leigh Foster, born June 4 to Derek and Janelle Foster of Harrison. Grandparents are James and Janet Dasher of Harrison and Roger and June Foster of Portland. Great-grandparent is Florence Lasky of Wheatfield.

Savannah Lynn Walsh, born June 16 to Tanya Michaud and Kenneth Walsh of Lewiston. Grandparents are Paul and Sandra Michaud and Donald and Donna Walsh, all of Lewiston, and Katherine Foster of Biddeford.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:15:28 +0000
Community meals Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 MONDAY

Free community breakfast, including eggs, bacon, pancakes, French toast and pastries, as well as coffee, tea, juice and milk. Open to all. Chestnut Street Baptist Church, 29 Chestnut St., Camden. 542-0360.


Free meal, Trinity Lutheran Church, 5 to 6 p.m. Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge St. 854-5653.


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


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


Potluck supper, 5 p.m., North Belgrade Community Center, 508 Smithfield Road, Belgrade. Free. 465-7874

Baked bean and American chop suey supper, including hot dogs, coleslaw, bread, beverage and dessert. 4:30 to 6 p.m. First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport at the church’s Ober Hall at 141 North St. $8, $4 for ages 12 and younger.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:15:51 +0000
Reunions Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Cape Elizabeth High School Class of 1968 50th reunion. Sept. 15. Purpoodock Club, Cape Elizabeth. Looking for classmate information. Contact Steve Hill at

Deering High School Class of 1964 reunion. 5 p.m. Aug.17. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Commercial Street, Portland. $25. RSVP by Aug. 5 to

Freeport High School All Class reunion. 1 to 3 p.m. July 7. Freeport High School Gymnasium, Holbrook Street, Freeport. Contact: Sherrie Daye at 865-3052.

Portland High School Class of 1948 70th reunion. Social hour from 11 a.m. to noon Sept. 14, followed by luncheon at Clarion Hotel, 1230 Congress St., Portland. Ordering from menu. For reservations, call Art Smith at 883-3731.

Portland High School Class of 1960 reunion luncheon. Sept. 6, Stockhouse Restaurant & Sports Pub, 506 Main St., Westbrook. Reservation deadline is Aug. 25. Contacts are Patti Nevers at 747-4814 or email or call Pat Sangillo at 603-746-4931 or email

Portland High School Class of 1965 reunion luncheon buffet. 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 4. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Commercial Street, Portland. $31. Contact Cathy (Banks) Harrington at 887-9045 or Register by July 27.

Portland High School Class of 1968 50th reunion. 6 p.m. to midnight. Aug. 11. Italian Heritage Center, 40 Westland Ave., Portland. $50. Contact Dave Crowley at or 272-2194. Register by July 15.

Portland High School Class of 1973 45th reunion. 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 4. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Commercial Street, Portland. $40. Contacts: Joni Gordon Beliveau at; Dana Neuts at; Val Grzyb Stefanski at 878-3007; and Gloria Giordano Lax at 892-2932. Mail checks to: Val Grzyb Stefanski, 115 Blackstrap Road, Falmouth, ME 04105.

Portland High School Class of 1978 40th reunion. 1 p.m. Aug. 25, Casablanca Cruises. $20. Tickets available on line. Lunch on your own at Porthole Restaurant at 11 a.m., followed by a tour of Portland High School.

Sanford High School Class of 1968 50th reunion. Aug. 11. If you were a member of this class and would like to attend, know of others who would like to attend, or would like to update your contact information, contact Michael Bourque at 324-9458 or 608-5480 or at

Scarborough High School Class of 1968 Reunion. 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 8. The Maine Table (Merry Manor Inn) South Portland. $40. Contact: Brenday (Gray) Birkner at

South Portland Class of 1948 70th Reunion. 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 11. DiMillo’s Restaurant, Commercial Street, Portland. RSVP by Aug. 29. For planning or more details, call Bob MacVane at 207-657-3856.

South Portland Class of 1958 60th Reunion. July 14. Maine Military Museum, 50 Peary Terrace, South Portland. $20. Send payment to Diane Donahue, 3237 Roswell Road, The Villages, FL 32162 or contact Russell Smith at

South Portland High School Class of 1963 55th reunion. Noon to 5 p.m. Aug, 11, Purpoodock Club, Cape Elizabeth. Contact Patty Marshall at 649-8991 or email

South Portland High School Class of 1968 50th reunion. 6 to 11 p.m. Aug 18. Purpoodock Club, Cape Elizabeth. Seeking addresses. Contact

South Portland High School Class of 1983 35th reunion. 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 4, Two Lights State Park group site, 7 Tower Drive, Cape Elizabeth. Featuring music, activities and a meal. Cost is $10 to $20+. Donations appreciated. RSVP required by July 28. Contact is candy.anderson-ek@mainegirlsacademy,org

97th annual reunion. The Second (Indianhead) Division Association of Olivia, North Carolina, is searching for members who served in the Army 2nd Infantry Division to attend a planned 97th annual reunion. Sept. 19 to 23 in Jacksonville, Florida. Contact Mike Davino at or 919-498-1910.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:16:05 +0000
Lawmakers avert crisis for adults with intellectual disabilities Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 The Legislature averted a crisis for about 4,000 Maine adults with intellectual disabilities who are living in group homes or receiving other Medicaid services with unanimous votes Thursday to increase reimbursement rates for direct care workers, officials with nonprofits said.

“We are very, very happy. We’re ecstatic,” said Ray Nagel, executive director of the Independence Association, a Brunswick nonprofit that operates about 15 group homes.

Maine’s workforce shortage, combined with low wages for direct care workers, was making it increasingly difficult to find employees, threatening the survival of the group homes, advocates said. The low reimbursement rates also imperiled other programs for adults with ID, such as day activities and work programs or in-home services that help people with daily living tasks.

Gov. Paul LePage hasn’t indicated whether he will sign or veto the bill, but because lawmakers voted for it unanimously, the bill was approved with veto-proof majorities.

Nagel said if the bill hadn’t passed, the Independence Association would have had to immediately close six of its 15 group homes, and there would have been a similar crisis statewide.

Lawmakers adjourned May 2 without funding the reimbursement rate increase that they had agreed to earlier in the session. The issue was caught up in a partisan fight over funding Medicaid expansion, when House Republicans refused to provide the votes to extend the session. But a special session was called last week to take care of unfinished business.

Before the special session was called, social service agencies were left in limbo as a June 30 cutback in reimbursement rates that would have cut wages for direct care workers loomed.

Rates were set to revert to 2017 levels on July 1, which meant nonprofit agencies that operate the group homes would have been reimbursed the equivalent of an employee earning $9.17 an hour, less than the $10 minimum wage. In order to keep employees working, the nonprofit agencies would have had to use other funding sources just to pay their workers minimum wage.

Agencies were competing with other minimum wage employers where often the work is much easier, compared to the challenging and stressful job conditions that direct care workers face, advocates have said.

Lawmakers approved a temporary measure last year that increased the reimbursement rate to $10 per hour, but that was intended as stopgap funding while looking for a permanent solution, and those rates were due to expire on June 30.

Instead, if the bill, L.D. 924, is signed into law, rates will be raised to the equivalent of $11 per hour, allowing agencies to pay slightly more than minimum wage.

Maine voters approved a minimum wage increase in November 2016, and the minimum wage will increase to $12 per hour by 2020.

The bill also builds in a rate review every two years to see if rates need to be increased to keep the group homes operating.

The group homes serve adults with intellectual disabilities with the most acute conditions, and there are about 1,800 living in the group homes, with a waiting list of 1,700.

A decade ago, there were only about 100 people on the waiting list, but back then, direct care workers were earning about $3 more per hour than minimum wage, and agencies didn’t have problems staffing the group homes.

Group homes and other services for adults with intellectual disabilities are funded through Medicaid, which is a blended federal and state program. The states operate Medicaid and set reimbursement rates for services.

The bill would cost taxpayers $26 million in state funds plus an additional $55 million in federal funds to increase the reimbursement rates.

Lydia Dawson, executive director of the Maine Association for Community Service Providers, which represents the nonprofit agencies, said the votes were a big relief.

“This will help us stabilize the system,” Dawson said. “We are extremely thankful that the Legislature came back and passed this legislation. We avoided a huge crisis.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

Twitter: joelawlorph

]]> 0 Dawson, executive director of the Maine Association for Community Service Providers, says the Legislature's votes came as a relief. "We avoided a huge crisis," she said.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:53:21 +0000
Saco, state officials put priority on cure for traffic headaches on Route 112 Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 The way Saco Public Works Director Patrick Fox sees it, the hottest topic in town other than erosion in Camp Ellis is the traffic congestion that plagues Route 112, frustrating drivers and raising concerns about public safety both on local streets and the Maine Turnpike.

The congestion – an issue for well over a decade – has worsened in recent years because of residential development in communities west of the city, and reaches a choke point near where traffic exits the turnpike onto Route 112. Now the city is partnering with the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority to look for long-term solutions, including the possibility of an Interstate 195 spur to reroute traffic out of the neighborhoods that commuters cut through to avoid busy intersections.

“We’ve seen Route 112 traffic volumes grow to almost what we see on Route 1,” Fox said. “You can only fit so many cars on the road the way it’s constructed now. That’s our challenge.”

The congestion is particularly acute during the morning and evening commutes on weekdays, when cars from Saco and towns to the west head to the turnpike interchange via Industrial Park Road.


Nearly 20,000 cars travel through the corridor each day on average, including more than 18,000 that use Industrial Park Road, according to MDOT. Two intersections along Route 112 – with Garfield Street and Industrial Park Road – are considered by the department to be high-crash locations. In 2015 through 2017 there were 29 crashes at the Industrial Park Road intersection and 22 at the Garfield Street intersection.

During the busiest commuting hours, traffic backs up from Industrial Park Road onto the main line of the turnpike.

That’s a safety concern, especially along a stretch of turnpike used by 60,000 to 70,000 cars a day, said Erin Courtney, a spokeswoman for the turnpike authority. She said traffic sometimes backs up onto the turnpike at the southbound Biddeford exit, but not to the same degree as it does in Saco.

The traffic jams at the intersection of Route 112 and Industrial Park Road are frustrating for drivers and a concern for emergency responders who need to get through that area quickly. The regular commuter traffic is exacerbated by the large number of tractor-trailer trucks that use Route 112 to get to Hollis and other towns in western York County.

“Getting through there is a bit of a challenge, not just for us but for the fire department,” said Deputy Police Chief Jack Clements. “People get frustrated because they’re sitting through three or four light cycles. When you see people get frustrated, they try to drive around things or cut through neighborhoods.”

The city has studied traffic in the Route 112 corridor in the past, but this is the first time it’s being studied as a regional transportation issue instead of simply a Saco problem, Fox said. The city is paying 20 percent of the cost of the engineering study, and the turnpike authority and MDOT will pay the rest.

The engineering study will look for long-term solutions to managing and improving access to Route 112 and making safety improvements at intersections. It also will look for ways to separate local and through traffic as much as possible. A final report is due in February.

City Administrator Kevin Sutherland first floated the idea of an I-195 spur more than two years ago when the City Council was looking at traffic issues in the city. Currently, I-195 extends east from Exit 36 to Old Orchard Beach. If the engineering study determines a spur would be beneficial, officials would still need to determine its exact location and how to pay for it.

“We’re suffering from continuing traffic congestions,” Sutherland said. “Anything (other than a spur) is a small Band-Aid.”

Previous studies have identified high-crash locations, safety and livability issues on local streets that commuters cut through, traffic congestion at the toll plaza and on the turnpike, and the lack of bicycle and pedestrian lanes on Route 112. The city has already tried to address the traffic congestion by identifying the most problematic areas, adding turn lanes and installing state-of-the-art traffic signal equipment to better control traffic flow.

Fox said the city will continuously update residents on the study and will hold a second public comment session in October. The city website now includes a specific section about the Route 112 issue.

“We want to keep the momentum up on this,” he said. “It is critical to keep this a front-burner issue and not let it stall and delay.”


]]> 0 backs up Friday at the intersection of Industrial Park Road and Route 112 in Saco. Nearly 20,000 cars travel through the corridor each day on average, including more than 18,000 that use Industrial Park Road, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:47:18 +0000
Maine cities, towns may gain control over all retail marijuana sales Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Caregivers would have to get municipal approval to sell cannabis to their patients out of a retail shop under a proposed amendment to a sweeping medical marijuana reform bill pending before the Maine Legislature.

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, mirrors one that he added to the adult-use cannabis regulatory bill this year that helped it secure enough political support to overcome a gubernatorial veto.

“This amendment would not stop licensed caregivers from selling out of their homes, where they grow their medical marijuana,” Katz said Friday. “It would, however, give municipalities control over all local retail marijuana sales – medical, recreational, all of it.”

The amendment means that towns wouldn’t have to do a thing to prevent retail marijuana sales. Caregiver stores that have already opened – with municipal approval – would be safe, but those that opened without specific local authorization could get shut down, Katz said.

Municipal authorization could take the form of a business permit for medical marijuana sales, zoning laws that allow medical marijuana stores in certain districts, or an ordinance that specifically allows medical cannabis stores. It would not affect caregiver grow locations, Katz said.

As written, Katz believes the amendment will allow towns that are interested in hosting retail shops to write one set of marijuana regulations, which will save them money and make it easier for cannabis entrepreneurs to figure out where they will be welcomed.

Even with these additional local controls, the underlying medical marijuana reform bill would be the first piece of legislation that specifically acknowledges caregiver storefronts, the retail shops that have popped up across the state for selling medical cannabis to patients.

The bill also would eliminate caregiver patient caps, allowing them to serve as many people as they want from 30 mature cannabis plants, and would allow them to hire more than one employee. To get those, however, caregivers would have to accept broader state inspection powers.

The bill also would allow patients to use cannabis with a doctor’s authorization even if they don’t have a listed medical condition such as cancer, Crohn’s disease or seizures. It would expand the number of state-licensed dispensaries from eight to 12 and allow them to go for-profit.

Katz believes the reform bill, which was the product of months of work by the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, could fail if the Legislature doesn’t put limits on the proliferation of caregiver shops, which have been operating in legal limbo, not specifically banned or permitted.

The Maine Municipal Association supports the amendment, said spokesman Garret Corbin. The group wanted the Legislature to clarify local control of caregiver operations. The amendment will ensure “retail stores are only authorized in communities that are open to them,” Corbin said.

The current medical marijuana law was written before caregivers began using short-term patient designations, or patient cycling, to stretch the five-patients-at-a-time state limit into hundreds a year. That kind of walk-in patient turnover has fueled the proliferation of these shops.

What began about a year ago as a handful of caregivers discreetly serving patients out of the back rooms of their smoke shops or garden supply stores has turned into dozens of stores in downtowns across the state, from Bar Harbor to Rockland to Portland.

Some advertise themselves as a medical dispensary in radio ads or online marijuana locator services, while others hang rainbow-colored marijuana flags from their facades and invite the public in to look around. They note the state is not closing any of these stores down.

Some towns argue these storefronts are illegal, operating largely outside of the state regulatory structure and without the same level of regulatory scrutiny focused on the state’s eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

Some law firms with active marijuana practices, such as Drummond Woodsum of Portland, have told their municipal clients that the legality of storefronts has not yet been proven in court. If the reform bill fails, several municipalities appear ready to lawyer up and test the waters.

The licensed dispensaries echo these concerns. Caregivers are operating like mini-dispensaries without following dispensary rules or enduring the same level of state scrutiny, they say. The licensed dispensaries blame storefronts and gifting services for declining sales in 2017.

Some caregivers held off on jumping into these untested legal waters, worried that they would lose patients to walk-in storefronts but not wanting to jeopardize their caregiver license or their chances of one day getting an adult-use grow or retail license.

But the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the state regulatory agency that has been in charge of the medical program since its inception, has remained publicly silent on the issue. Town officials say not getting shut down is not the same thing as being legal.

“The state has left us in a very difficult position,” Town Manager Nate Rudy said this month after Hallowell adopted a moratorium on caregiver shops. “It’s not enforcing its own laws. They’re leaving it up to us to interpret the law and do the work.”

Hallowell is eager to work with marijuana businesses, Rudy said, but wants to limit the number of medical or adult-use marijuana stores in its downtown to no more than three. The moratorium is intended to buy the town time to write these regulations.

Rudy worries about a downtown full of retail stores after the adult-use market opens and cannabis prices start to fall, like they have in Colorado and Oregon. The green rush might drive rents up at first, but closures could leave downtown empty until rents stabilized.

“Tying the future of our downtown to a volatile market is risky,” Rudy said.

Some towns had assumed the opt-out clause of the adult-use cannabis law meant they could ban retail marijuana stores from their towns altogether, but that law only applies to recreational marijuana stores, not medical marijuana operations.

Once the adult-use bill passed in May and towns began to write highly restrictive marijuana regulations or ban grow sites, kitchens and stores altogether, some municipal leaders were surprised to learn the law didn’t apply to caregiver shops.

Some municipalities have passed moratoriums to buy time to create zoning laws to limit their locations, like South Portland, or downtown limits, like Hallowell. Others, like Augusta, are trying to ban them altogether.


]]> 0, 24 Jun 2018 22:52:40 +0000
For diners in southern Maine, gourmet burger trend sizzling hot Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 First came Five Guys.

It was 2011, and the fast-casual restaurant wave that spans Panera Bread to Chipotle hit the Old Port with one of several national chains built on elevating the fast-food-style burger with fresh ingredients and custom toppings, but served just as quickly.

Next was B.Good, a smaller, Boston-based chain that opened a location on Exchange Street in 2013 with a slightly slower, more local burger, using ingredients sourced from New England farms and toppings like homemade jalapeno slaw.

With the March opening of Black Cow, a locally owned burger joint that makes everything in-house down to the mustard, there are now five burger-centered eateries in a half-mile between Commercial and Brown streets.

Long relegated to pubs, drive-thrus and barbecues, burgers re-emerged on the American food scene as part of a trend toward returning to basics – but better. Think gourmet popsicles or taco trucks.

Although Business Insider began reporting in 2016 that sales at “better burger” chains were on the decline, the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 Culinary Forecast determined that gourmet burgers remained a “hot trend,” ranked 60th in its survey of industry professionals – above poke but below avocado toast.

Nicholas Nappi, chef-owner of Black Cow on Exchange Street, slides a patty onto a grilled bun. “A lot of the places popping up right now that are doing well are really well-done food at a cheaper price point,” he said. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Their popularity shows no sign of slowing in southern Maine. In addition to the Old Port’s saturated burger scene, Biddeford has had two burger joints – Cowbell and The Hamburger Stand – open in the past couple of years. In downtown Westbrook, Blazes Burgers and Legends Rest Taproom, which specializes in so-called smashburgers, opened within a month of each other this spring.

“Portland has always been a few years late to the stuff you see in New York, or even places like Austin, which has more of a foodie reputation,” said Tom Minervino, owner of Legends Rest. His taproom menu is inspired by chains like Smashburger and its technique of squashing a ball of meat with a heavy-duty metal spatula.

Coinciding with the rise of higher-quality fast-food burgers was the birth of the gourmet burger in 2001, when French chef Daniel Boulud debuted the foie gras-adorned “DB Burger” at his Bistro Moderne in Manhattan. The luxury menu item made waves with its $27 price and started another trend in its mashup of high and low culture.

Fast-forward 10 years and Nosh Kitchen Bar burst onto the scene as Portland’s first gourmet fast-food joint. Offering burgers with fried mac-and-cheese buns, as well as its own foie gras pate- and pork belly-topped patties, Nosh brought the gourmet burger to Maine’s foodie capital.

Phelps Craig, owner of Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based BRGR Bar, was keyed into the burger frenzy occurring in larger cities like New York when she decided to join the craze in 2012. She opened a second location last year in Portland and has another one – in Manchester, New Hampshire – in the works.

Carolyn Dagostino, BRGR Bar’s chief of operations, believes the appeal of the classic American staple is only growing. “Everyone can have their own spin on it – even if you’re doing gourmet burgers,” she said. Fresh takes include various cuts of meat, including bison, chicken, duck and mahi-mahi, as well as house-made condiments, like BRGR’s “special sauce” or Black Cow’s crystal hot sauce mayonnaise.

Garrett Jones of Portland reaches for a BRGR bacon burger, with bbq sauce, feta cheese. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

A closer look at Garrett Jones’ glistening BRGR bacon burger before the chomping ensues. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Several high-end restaurants that have opened amid Portland’s restaurant boom, including Chaval, East Ender and Scales, offer burgers as a lower-priced entree option. Back Bay Grill, one of Portland’s longer-established special-occasion spots, holds burger nights a couple of times a year, packing its tables during the week with devoted fans of the off-menu item.

On the flip side, international fast-food chains like McDonald’s are trying to take advantage of the trend by fancifying their burgers with Wagyu beef, garlic aioli and artisan rolls. In the latest gourmet burger grab, IHOP this month temporarily replaced the “P” for its signature pancakes with a “B” for burgers to debut its new lineup of Ultimate Steakburgers.

When any food trend trickles from the upper echelons of the urban restaurant scene down to the ubiquitous fast-food global production market, that usually indicates it has lost its cool quotient. But something as classic as the hamburger can’t really go out of style.

“Burgers are always a hot choice for consumers,” said Doug Radkey, an expert columnist at Foodable and owner of the Canadian restaurant development agency Key Restaurant Group. “It’s a classic comfort food: It’s been around for forever as a food item that resonates with each demographic there is. The burger at the end of the day is really a great food platform that chefs can experiment with at the same time.”

Because burgers are the quintessential American comfort food, Nicholas Nappi, chef-owner of Black Cow, doesn’t necessarily think they are trendy themselves, but filling a different desire among the dining public.

“The Portland food scene has all these great restaurants, but many of them are very expensive, formal kind of dining experiences, and it seems like a lot of the places popping up right now that are doing well are really well-done food at a cheaper price point,” he said.

Dagostino, from BRGR Bar, sees the gourmet burger as a way to tap into the market of more socially conscious consumers, taking the guilt out of what’s sometimes viewed as a less healthy choice by using local, humanely raised meat.

“The way it’s done now is different than it’s ever been done,” she said.

Surya Milner can be contacted at:

]]> 0 Maya Doyle delivers fries and a burger – with bacon, barbecue sauce and feta cheese – to Garrett Jones of Portland on Friday at BRGR Bar on Brown Street in Portland.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 08:40:10 +0000
Erdogan claims victory in Turkey’s presidential election Mon, 25 Jun 2018 02:29:19 +0000 ISTANBUL — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared victory after unofficial election returns Sunday showed him with enough votes to serve another term that carries new executive powers.

“The nation has entrusted to me the responsibility of the presidency and the executive duty,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul after a near-complete count carried by the state-run news agency gave him the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The presidential election and a parliamentary election also held Sunday, both more than a year early, complete NATO-member Turkey’s transition from a parliamentary system of government to a strong presidential system. Voters approved the change in a referendum last year.

Erdogan, 64, insisted before the election that the expanded powers – which include the authority to impose states of emergency and to issue decrees – would bring prosperity and stability to Turkey, especially after a failed military coup attempt in 2016. A state of emergency has been in place since the coup.

The president’s critics, however, warned that Erdogan’s re-election would cement the grip on power of a leader who they accuse of showing increasingly autocratic tendencies.

Official results were to be declared by the country’s electoral board.

Results carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency with more than 96 percent of ballot boxes counted showed Erdogan winning an outright majority of 52.6 percent, far ahead of the 30.75 percent for his main contender, the secular Muharrem Ince.

Kurdish candidate Selahattin Demirtas, who ran his campaign from prison where he is being held pending trial on terrorism-related charges, was garnering 8.1 percent. He has called the charges trumped-up and politically motivated.

However, Ince said the results carried on Anadolu were not a true reflection of the official vote count by the country’s electoral board. In a tweet earlier in the evening, he said only 37 percent of ballot boxes had actually been counted, as opposed to the more than nearly 90 percent Anadolu was reporting at the time. He accused the agency of “manipulation” of the results.

Erdogan also declared victory for the People’s Alliance, an electoral coalition between his ruling Justice and Development Party and the small Nationalist Movement Party, saying they had a “parliamentary majority” in the 600-member assembly.

]]> 0 Tayyip ErdoganSun, 24 Jun 2018 22:35:11 +0000
Lewiston man, 28, dies at state prison farm in Warren Mon, 25 Jun 2018 02:08:04 +0000

Dana Bartlett Maine Depaartment of Corrections photo

WARREN — A 28-year-old inmate at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren died Sunday, the Maine Department of Corrections announced Sunday evening.

Dana R. Bartlett of Lewiston died shortly before 6 p.m. at the facility known as the prison farm. A suspected cause of death was not released.

The Corrections Department said that, consistent with the its policy and Maine Attorney General’s Office protocols, the Maine State Police and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner were notified.

State police are investigating the death as they do every prison death, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. He said a state police team was sent to the prison and more information would likely be released Monday morning.

Bartlett had been sentenced March 22 in Androscoggin County Superior Court to 16 months in prison for operating after habitual offender revocation and theft by unauthorized taking. He was scheduled to be released on March 28, 2019.

]]>, 25 Jun 2018 09:02:07 +0000
Lobbyist linked to Pruitt’s condo rental pushed for EPA to hire family friend Mon, 25 Jun 2018 01:26:36 +0000 WASHINGTON — The lobbyist whose wife rented Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt a room in a Capitol Hill condo at a discounted rate lobbied Pruitt’s chief of staff to hire a family friend, according to recently released agency emails.

Steven Hart, who served as chairman of the law firm Williams and Jensen until earlier this year, contacted Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, on administration policies affecting his clients and potential appointments to the EPA’s scientific advisory boards and possible agency hires.

The emails, released in response to a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, show that both Hart and his wife – who rented Pruitt a condo for $50 a night, which he paid only on nights he stayed there – pushed for the EPA to hire Jimmy Guilliano, a recent college graduate.

Scott Pruitt

“I seldom talk to Scott but Vicki does,” Hart wrote to Jackson. “She has talked to Scott about this kid who is important to us. He told Vicki to talk to you about how to handle this. I am not sure personally that this is a good idea for Jimmy unless he is working near you. Sticking him down in the bowels is death at EPA. His family is all Naval Academy by the way.”

In an email Sunday, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said that the agency did not hire Guilliano and that the agency stands by its previous statement that Hart did not lobby the agency.

“The Agency accepts career recommendations from a number of acquaintances. Ultimately, Mr. Guilliano was not hired,” Wilcox wrote, adding that when it came to Hart’s other correspondence with Jackson, “Many of these emails were unsolicited and did not impact any Agency policy outcomes.”

This spring, Hart said in interview with The Washington Post and other outlets that he did no EPA lobbying during 2017 or 2018, but his former firm amended his lobbying disclosure documents this month to reflect that he worked on behalf of Coca-Cola, the Financial Oversight and Management Control Board of Puerto Rico and Smithfield Foods.

Hart and Jackson, both Oklahomans, knew each other before Pruitt took the helm of the EPA. The emails show that the lobbyist repeatedly contacted Jackson on several topics, asking him to arrange meetings for his clients and place allies of his in different EPA jobs.

Hart worked to place candidates on the agency’s Scientific Advisory Board, which helps guide the EPA’s research, though those efforts did not appear to bear fruit. Pruitt revamped the membership of several EPA advisory panels last fall, adding officials allied with industry groups while barring any researchers from serving if they were simultaneously receiving EPA grants.

At one point, for example, Hart wrote Jackson that he wanted “to highlight three candidates for the Science Advisory Board, who were nominated by our client, Dennis Treacy, the President of the Smithfield Foundation.”

At other point, while emailing Jackson on the issue, Hart wrote, “We need to smoke a cigar soon.” Hart hosted cigar parties in the same condo apartment complex where Pruitt stayed between February and August 2017.

Wilcox said the candidates Hart had suggested “were not considered. Because their names are redacted, they were not selected.”

In a statement Sunday, Hart said, “I never received any special treatment from Administrator Pruitt or had any undue influence over the Environmental Protection Agency. Ryan Jackson is an old friend whom I have know for many years prior to his service with the EPA.”

“We have discussed numerous issues and topics during his tenure as chief of staff, but he has never performed a special favor on my behalf,” Hart added.

Pruitt’s rental arrangement with Vicki Hart is under scrutiny by the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee, as well as the EPA’s Office of Inspector General.

]]> 0 PruittMon, 25 Jun 2018 06:30:48 +0000
Auburn man accused of selling heroin in fatal overdose released on bail Mon, 25 Jun 2018 01:12:06 +0000 A man accused of selling deadly heroin to a woman last week was released from jail Sunday on $25,000 cash bail.

Cornell Collins, 49, of 46 High St. in Auburn, was charged with aggravated trafficking, aggravated possession of heroin and aggravated furnishing of a drug that resulted in death.

Collins was arrested Wednesday. After making an initial court appearance Friday, he was held at the county jail until making bail Sunday.

Bail conditions include an order for him to remain in Androscoggin County.

Police said a 25-year-old woman overdosed on heroin Wednesday inside her Turner Street apartment. Neighbors called for help after the woman’s son, about 6 years old, was spotted playing by himself outside the home.

Police said they determined that the woman had been hanging around with two men, one of whom was known to be a heroin user. One of the men told investigators that the day before the overdose, he had taken the woman to get heroin.

After buying a bad batch, the man told police, he contacted a drug dealer on High Street whom he knew only as Smoova.

Police said Smoova is Collins’ street name, and that shortly after the woman bought heroin from him, she overdosed on the drug.

]]>, 25 Jun 2018 09:02:43 +0000
Venezuela’s worthless currency becoming art Mon, 25 Jun 2018 01:08:09 +0000 CUCUTA, Colombia –– Venezuela’s currency has become virtually worthless, making it better used to turn colorful bolivar bills into a purse than to spend them on a purse – or anything else.

So that’s what Alvaro Rivera and other artisans in one Colombian town along the Venezuelan border are doing – using the once mighty bolivar as raw material to make handbags, bird sculptures and other curios.

The largest handbag Rivera sells on the streets of Cucuta is painstakingly woven from 1,000 individual bills totaling 100,000 bolivares. The value of that cash at money exchange houses in Cucuta is 17 U.S. cents. The bag, on the other hand, sells for $13.

“The price of the work has nothing to do with how many bills I use,” Rivera said. “What I’m selling is the art.”

Venezuela’s economic collapse has been so deep that it plays out in ways that defy the imagination. The Central Bank has stopped publishing most economic data, but Venezuela’s congress says annual inflation hit 24,600 percent in May.

That’s as if your bag of groceries, which cost $15 a year ago, now costs $3,960. And as prices have soared, wages and the currency haven’t kept pace.

While goods in dollar terms are cheap in Venezuela, those earning bolivares can no longer afford the basics. To feed a family of five for a month costs 20 times the monthly minimum wage, according to the Center for Labor Research and Analysis a Caracas-based nonprofit.

The crisis is forcing millions of people to flee the country, often to neighboring Colombia, to escape hunger and get their hands on any currency other than the bolivar.

In Cucuta, more than 20,000 Venezuelans cross the border every day, some leaving for good and some just hoping to earn a few pesos.

Anderson Gutierrez, a 45-year-old orthopedist from Caracas, has spent the last three months prowling the international bridge doing odd jobs. On a recent weekday, he was trying to persuade Venezuelan women to sell their hair to Colombian wigmakers. On a good day, he makes about 50,000 Colombian pesos in commission, or about $18 – a fortune if he takes it across the river to San Cristobal, Venezuela.

“I go to the other side to sleep,” Gutierrez said, explaining that the hotels in Colombia were too expensive. “But it’s really sad over there. There’s nothing to buy. Finding food to eat can take hours.”

Scrambling to keep up with the runaway prices, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has increased the minimum wage three times this year alone. Now the basic monthly wage is 1 million bolivares. At the official exchange rate, which few people have access to, that salary is equivalent to $13. But on the black market, where most people are forced to exchange their money, it’s less than $2.

Another mind-bending aspect of Venezuela’s crisis is that while bolivar bills are essentially worthless, they’re also incredibly hard to find. According to Bloomberg, the government no longer has enough money to buy money. And so most merchants now rely on bank transfers for even the smallest payments.

Velasquez says paper money has become so scarce that it’s selling at a premium. If you want 100,000 bolivares in your hand, for example, you have to transfer 250,000 bolivares to the seller’s account.

The reason the bills are prevalent in Colombia and along the Venezuelan border but harder to find in Venezuela’s interior is a product of market forces. As Venezuelans leave their country, they often exchange their savings in Colombia for pesos, or another currency, to continue their journey.

Merchants along the border then use bolivares to buy Venezuelan toothpaste, mayonnaise, gasoline and other price-controlled goods that can be resold at huge markups in Colombia.

Girish Gupta, a former journalist and the founder of Data Drum, a website that collects and analyzes economic data from Venezuela and other countries, says the government’s figures provide clues to the crisis.

While the administration can’t afford to print or import physical bills, it’s creating electronic money at rates seen nowhere else in the world, he said.

In the past year alone, Venezuela’s monetary base – a combination of all the physical and electronic money in circulation – has increased 6,222 percent, according to Central Bank figures. And over the past three years it has increased a staggering 50,000 percent. By comparison, the United States’ M2 money supply (a broad measure of money in circulation) increased 3.7 percent in the past year.

“They are printing so much money, in a metaphorical sense, that of course we’re going to have hyperinflation,” Gupta said. “No other country in the world is printing money like that.”

]]> 0 in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, are finding other uses for Venezuela's worthless bolivar currency.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:10:31 +0000
In Richmond, Youth Bike Rodeo gives kids a safety tuneup Mon, 25 Jun 2018 00:06:23 +0000 RICHMOND — A year ago, Ella Grace Savage couldn’t really ride a bicycle.

Even so, she went to Richmond’s Youth Bike Rodeo and thanks to a bike with training wheels that was on hand, she got a chance to ride the course laid out by traffic cones in the parking lot of the Richmond Police Department and learn some basic bike safety.

Ella, 8, was back Sunday along with about 75 other kids to ride the course, check out the bouncy castle, get their bicycles checked out for safety and maybe win one of the bikes.

For most of the morning she was on her bike more than off of it, standing out from the crowd in her unicorn bike helmet, complete with ears, horn and mane.

“She wanted to come back,” said Ella’s mother, Theetra Savage.

Every year, Richmond police put on the Youth Bike Rodeo, closing off a bit of High Street at Gardiner Street to accommodate a child-size obstacle course for the kids to ride.

Richmond Police Sgt. James Donnell, who was monitoring the mini-traffic circle on the course, said the bike rodeo gives children a chance to learn to control their bikes and learn road safety, including stopping at stop signs and walking their bikes across crosswalks.

“We do have a lot of kids riding their bikes on streets in town,” said Donnell, who took on organizing the bike rodeo four years ago. “When the weather’s nice, they ride their bikes to school.”

But before any kid could try out the course, Mark Wheeler had to check it out first.

Wheeler, who works for Bath Cycle in Woolwich, was equipped to make basic adjustments to the mechanics of the bikes, adding air to some tires, oiling chains and inspecting brakes and brake pads.

Wheeler is no stranger to bikes. He estimates he has been working on bikes for about 20 years, and he has been riding them for even longer, including a cross-country ride from Bellingham, Washington, to Maine.

“Many of these bikes have poor brake components,” he said. “They’re hard to work with and adjust. The coaster brakes are fine, but the rim brakes are generally not very good.”

The key to getting a good bike is shopping around because they can be gotten for about half the retail price, Wheeler said.

The next stop was the helmet check, where adjustments were made or new helmets were provided.

While Sam Gay had a helmet, the 7-year-old’s bike didn’t pass muster. One of his tires was about ready to blow off the rim. So he ran the course on a borrowed bike.

Donnell said the event couldn’t run without donations from people and businesses, who offered up bike helmets, bikes, and money to buy more bikes.

To give the day a cool factor, Maine Helicopters of Whitefield circled the rodeo before coming to rest in the parking lot of the Public Works building.

And with the Seatbelt Convincer, a device provided by Maine Bureau of Highway Safety that shows what happens during vehicle crashes to people not wearing seat belts, it was an all-around safety day, Donnell said.

“We’ve got neighbors here cooking food,” he said.

Theetra Savage, standing and holding her daughter’s melting ice cream cone, said last year Scott MacMaster, the police chief, took some time to show her daughter how to ride a bike and helped her gain confidence on two wheels. It was a good thing, because she won one of the bikes that was being given away.

On Sunday, Ella entered a drawing for a bike when she completed the obstacle course. Her mother entered the other giveaway.

Within minutes, they learned they both won bikes.

A few minutes later, Ella was looking around for another girl, to give her the bike she had won.

“I wanted to make her a little happy,” Ella said.

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


]]> 0 Emmons, 4, walks her bike through a stop sign Sunday under the supervision of Richmond police Officer Will Towle during the annual bicycle rodeo for young riders in the community.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 07:07:25 +0000
Maine high schoolers take crash course on rigors of college life Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:55:54 +0000 WATERVILLE — Summer days are usually filled with babysitting and preparation for high school sports for 16-year-old Emily Glidden.

Last week, however, the rising senior at Winslow High School spent almost every waking hour studying during a one-week intensive course at Thomas College.

Thomas College Professor Ryan Wheaton assists Bradie Reynolds of Mt. Blue in Farmington during a class segment on personal finance Thursday. In the foreground,  Alisa Bonefant of Hall-Dale in Farmingdale studies resource material on the topic. Waterville Sentinel/David Leaming

“I just felt it would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door for college, take a college class and get three credits out of it,” Glidden said. “I’m spending a week at college and getting that college feel.”

She’s one of 22 students who participated in a new college preparatory program offered through a partnership of the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program, Thomas College and the Harold Alfond Foundation.

JMG Summer Academy, first run on a pilot basis two years ago, provides the opportunity to take a one-week intensive college course while also getting a feel for campus life, including living in a dorm and eating on campus, at no cost to the student.

“The biggest goal is to raise aspirations,” said Dwight Littlefield, vice president of college success advancement for Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, a nonprofit that partners with Maine’s public middle and high schools to transition students into postsecondary education and successful careers.

“It’s getting them to say, ‘I can do this. I can take a college course. I can navigate the cafeteria. I can move around a campus.’ And at the end they’re getting that reward – the three credits in college classwork,” Littlefield said.

The students wake up around 7:30 a.m., eat breakfast and get to class – this year it was on personal finance – by 9 a.m.

They’re in class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., have a break to exercise or move around, eat dinner and then have about 2½ hours of homework to complete.

Some of the students are first-generation college students or, like Glidden, have just one parent who went to college. Others may face financial barriers to overcome on their way to college.

Their challenges may be as simple as not having done well academically in their first few years of high school, or feeling shy or nervous about moving away from home, but whatever it is, Littlefield said the program seeks to help them overcome barriers to success.

“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see what college is really like,” said Alisa Bonenfant, a rising senior at Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale. “I thought it would be good to get a first class under my belt so I’m not as nervous when I go to college in the future.”

Bonenfant, who will be a first-generation college student, said she’s worried about the cost of college and what she’ll want to major in, but she plans to sit down with her high school guidance counselor and principal this fall and “apply for as many scholarships as I can.”

Another student, Bradie Reynolds of Farmington, said she was nervous about being away from home for a week and having to meet new people because she’s usually shy.

But by Thursday she said she felt more at ease and had found friends to study with, a key to getting all the work done for a full college course crammed into just one week.

“Their perseverance and time management is really being tested,” Littlefield said. By Thursday, he was noticing groups of students arriving in the classroom around 6 a.m. to get a head start on their work, or staying after class to collaborate.

“It’s intense, but they get a lot out of this week,” he said. “That’s the goal. At the end, they can say, ‘I can do this. I can really make this work.’ ”


]]> 0 left, Emily Glidden of Winslow High School, Alisa Bonefant of Hall-Dale and Bradie Reynolds of Mt. Blue discuss the weeklong college-level classes they took through a program sponsored by Jobs for Maine's Graduates, Thomas College and the Harold Alfond Foundation.Mon, 25 Jun 2018 06:51:42 +0000
Police blame alcohol in New Gloucester crash that injured 2 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:45:36 +0000 Alcohol was a factor in a single-vehicle crash on Route 26 in New Gloucester early Sunday that sent two people to the hospital, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The crash happened shortly after 1 a.m. when a white 2011 Jeep Patriot driven by Tia White, 26, of Skowhegan was traveling south near 49 Maine St.

The Jeep crossed the centerline and left the road, striking a utility pole and several trees, Capt. Craig Smith said in a written statement.

White suffered minor injuries and was transported to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment, as was her passenger, Levi Rajaniemi, 27, of Rumford, who had serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Smith said.

No charges had been filed in connection with the incident as of Sunday afternoon, according to Smith.

The Jeep was totaled and Route 26 was reduced to one travel lane for several hours.

Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from Gray and New Gloucester responded to the scene.

]]> 0, 24 Jun 2018 20:17:13 +0000
More community colleges offering job-targeted bachelor’s degrees Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:41:33 +0000 WASHINGTON — Starting in fall 2019, students at Ohio’s Sinclair Community College will be able to enroll in a four-year degree program in unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones.

They’ll learn mission planning, maintenance, laws, data analytics and more. Working on drones is a new field, and the college is eager to expand its program to meet the growing demand for graduates.

Just up the road, Youngstown State University offers a somewhat similar four-year degree, in mechanical engineering technology – but tuition there is double Sinclair’s.

Sinclair is one of a growing number of community colleges that have embraced the practice of two-year schools conferring four-year degrees.

As college costs rise and state officials look to accommodate nontraditional and low-income students, more are turning to community colleges to develop programs for industries with a lot of need – sometimes irking officials at four-year universities in the process.

About 90 two-year colleges are offering about 900 baccalaureate programs across the country, according to Beth Hagan, executive director of the Community College Baccalaureate Association, a Florida-based trade association.

But officials at four-year universities are balking at what they see as community colleges encroaching on their turf, and competing for scarce resources from the state.

Many officials would rather partner with the two-year schools than compete with them.

Ohio is one of 19 states that allow at least one two-year college to offer a four-year degree, and a half-dozen states could be moving in the same direction.

Most community colleges in those states can offer only baccalaureate programs that are narrowly tailored, rather than offering many programs across a wide swath of disciplines.

The community colleges still offer associate degrees and other certificates to students who want to complete their studies in two years, but those who want a bachelor’s degree stay for four.

“These are very much niche degrees when there is a local workforce need,” Hagan said, “either for skills that need specific training and require a bachelor’s degree, or for someone who has those skills and wants to advance into a supervisory level.”

“These are people who can’t leave their families, or their jobs … to go away to a university and get a degree,” she said.

“Some are younger students who live with their families in a culture that’s not conducive to going away.”

Despite limits on what they can offer, some two-year schools are offering baccalaureate programs that officials at four-year schools see as competition. Their programs are commonly found at four-year colleges and universities, ranging from nursing and education to information technology and human resources management.

In California, 15 community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in health and technology subjects such as biomanufacturing and health information management. In Georgia, students at two-year schools can get their bachelor’s in nonprofit management and respiratory therapy.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2018 06:37:00 +0000
As corporate policies turn anti-gun, firearm industry recoils and seeks legal protection Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:29:17 +0000 GAINESVILLE, Ga. — With Gary Ramey’s fledgling gun-making business taking off in retail stores, he decided to start offering one of his handguns for sale on his website.

That didn’t sit well with the company he used to process payments, and they informed him they were dropping his account. Another credit card processing firm told him the same thing: They wouldn’t do business with him.

The reason? His business of making firearms violates their policies.

In the wake of high-profile mass shootings, corporate America has been taking a stand against the firearms industry amid a lack of action by lawmakers on gun control. Payment-processing firms are limiting transactions, Bank of America stopped providing financing to companies that make assault weapon-style guns, and retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods imposed age restrictions on gun purchases.

The moves are lauded by gun-safety advocates but criticized by the gun industry, which views them as a backhanded way of undermining the Second Amendment. Gun industry leaders see the backlash as a real threat to their industry and are coming to the conclusion that they need additional protections in Congress to prevent financial retaliation from banks.

“If a few banks say ‘No, we’re not going to give loans to gun dealers or gun manufacturers,’ all of a sudden the industry is threatened and the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much if there are no guns around,” said Michael Hammond, legal counsel for Gun Owners of America. “If you can’t make guns, if you can’t sell guns, the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much.”

The issue has already gotten the attention of the Republican chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho sent letters criticizing Bank of America and Citigroup, which decided to restrict sales of firearms by its business customers over their new gun rules in the wake of the Florida high school shooting in February.

“We should all be concerned if banks like yours seek to replace legislators and policymakers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” Crapo wrote to Citigroup’s chief executive.

Honor Defense is a small operation with a handful of employees who include Ramey’s son and his wife, who work out of a non-descript building in a Georgia office park north of Atlanta. In 2016, its first year, it sold 7,500 firearms. Its products – handcrafted 9mm handguns that come in a variety of colors – can now be found in more than 1,000 stores.

When Ramey noticed that neither Stripe nor Intuit would process payments through his site, he submitted a complaint with Georgia’s Attorney General’s Office, counting on help from a state law that prohibits discrimination by financial service firms against the gun industry. But the state rejected it, saying that credit card processing is not considered a financial service under state law.

Ramey views the credit card issue as companies “infusing politics into business.”

“We’re just a small company trying to survive here,” Ramey said. “It’s hard enough competing with Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Sig Sauer.”

The financial industry actions came amid a broader pushback by corporate America in the aftermath of the Florida shooting. Delta and United Airlines stopped offering discounted fares to NRA members, as did the Hertz, Alamo and National rental car companies. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, decided not to renew a co-branded Visa credit card with the NRA.

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods both decided they would no longer sell “assault weapons” or firearms to people under age 21. REI, an outdoor-gear shop that doesn’t sell firearms, joined in and decided it would stop selling such items as ski goggles, water bottles and bike helmets made by companies whose parent firm, Vista Outdoor, manufactures ammunition and AR-style long guns.

There’s been election-year response from some lawmakers, notably in Georgia where Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, led a move in the Legislature to kill a tax break on jet fuel to punish Atlanta-based Delta over its NRA actions. The move cost the airline an estimated $40 million.

Gun-control advocates have applauded the efforts, saying it demonstrates responsible leadership at a time of paralysis in government. Experts say it’s a sign that the business world views wading into the gun debate as not at all risky – and, in fact, potentially beneficial to their brand.

“Companies by and large avoid these issues like the plague and they only get involved – whether they’re credit card companies or airlines – when they feel like doing nothing is as bad as doing something and they feel completely stuck,” said Timothy D. Lytton, professor at Georgia State University’s College of Law.

The gun industry acknowledges that there’s nothing requiring companies to do business with gun manufacturers or dealers. Monthly reports from the federal government show background checks to purchase a firearm are up over last year so far, so the early actions apparently have not put a dent in sales.

Still, the industry believes it needs stronger laws against financial retaliation in the future.

“We may have to seek legislation to make sure it can’t be done and that you can’t discriminate against individuals from lawful exercise of a constitutional right,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. “Imagine if banks were to say you can’t purchase books or certain books aren’t acceptable. That would be problematic, and I don’t think anyone would stand for that kind of activity by the banking industry.”

]]> 0 team at Honor Defense, a gunmaker outside Atlanta, includes owner Gary Ramey, second from left, who says two credit card processing companies refused his business because of what Honor Defense makes and sells. Ramey said the companies shouldn't be "infusing politics into business."Sun, 24 Jun 2018 19:41:09 +0000
Maine’s U.S. House members respond to Trump’s latest tweets on immigration Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:26:30 +0000 Two members of Maine’s congressional delegation had mixed responses to President Trump’s assertion Sunday that undocumented immigrants detained at the border should be returned to their home countries without due process through the legal system.

In a pair of tweets posted on the way to play golf, Trump characterized undocumented immigrants as invaders and called U.S. immigration laws “a mockery.”

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”

In a second tweet, Trump wrote: “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit – we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, issued a written statement Sunday afternoon consisting of a single sentence.

“We are a nation of laws,” he said.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, responded following a weekend visit to the Texas border, where she met with detained immigrants and others seeking asylum.

“The idea that the president suggests we just pick them up and send them back is frankly outrageous,” Pingree said in a telephone interview. “Many, many people we talked to are seeking asylum. That the president should even suggest we shouldn’t have judges and let people do what has happened for years in this country does not speak to American values.”

Pingree took issue with the president’s understanding of immigration laws and the circumstances that bring undocumented immigrants to the U.S. border.

“We apparently have to remind our president we are a country of immigrants for a whole variety of reasons, which is why this country is great,” Pingree said. “It is just shocking. He has so little understanding of the law, of due process, even of who the people are who are crossing the border.”

Pingree said she spoke with a number of people who were escaping violent circumstances and seeking refuge in the United States. They included a woman from Honduras whose husband was murdered by a drug cartel. She was traveling with a small child and a few other family members.

“She was standing on the bridge,” Pingree recalled, “attempting to come through the legal port of entry, being made to wait a ridiculous amount of time for no apparent reason.”

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

On “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, King said that while many children crossing the border a few years ago were unaccompanied minors, “what’s happening this time is kids are coming with their families, with their parents.”

King said that many of the undocumented immigrants currently being detained should be viewed as refugees fleeing violence in Central America, and that the United States could handle this crisis more cheaply and effectively if it hired more judges to process asylum-seekers.

Trump’s tweets came as House Republicans are preparing to vote this week on comprehensive immigration legislation, after a more hard-line bill failed last week. The Democrats support neither bill. The bill coming up this week is not expected to pass, although Trump said he supports it.


]]> 0's U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd DistrictSun, 24 Jun 2018 22:49:46 +0000
Kushner rips Abbas, says Mideast peace plan due ‘soon’ Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:25:24 +0000 JERUSALEM — President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser said in an interview published Sunday that the administration will soon present its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, with or without input from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In an interview published in the Arabic language Al-Quds newspaper, Jared Kushner appealed directly to Palestinians and criticized Abbas, who has shunned the Trump team over its alleged pro-Israel bias, particularly on the fate of contested Jerusalem.

The interview came out after a weeklong trip around the region by Kushner and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt. The team met with leaders of Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza and the administration’s proposals for a peace deal.

The Palestinians refused to meet with Kushner, and leaders have criticized the Trump negotiating team in recent days.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Kushner and Greenblatt on Saturday of trying to topple the Abbas-led West Bank autonomy government and dismantle the U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees. On Sunday, Erekat doubled down on his criticism, telling Israel’s Channel 10 that the American negotiators are “not neutral” and predicting their peace plan would fail.

Any peace plan would face major obstacles, including the increasingly dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, internal Palestinian divisions, and recent cross-border violence between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that he met twice with Kushner and Greenblatt this weekend and discussed “how to solve the humanitarian situation in Gaza without strengthening Hamas.”

It remains unclear how the Trump administration would proceed with a peace plan without Palestinian cooperation.

Kushner said the plan is “almost done,” but offered scant details aside from the promise of economic prosperity. He made no mention of a Palestinian state arising alongside Israel, though he acknowledged that Arab partners support that goal.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza – territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and two years later, Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’ forces. Abbas now governs only small autonomous zones in the West Bank.

Kushner cast doubt on Abbas’ ability to make a deal, alleging that the Palestinian leadership is “scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it.”

]]> 0 Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior adviser, had his security credentials downgraded in February.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 19:47:45 +0000
Plane pulled from bog after crash in Jefferson Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:14:30 +0000 JEFFERSON — A group of about a dozen people worked for hours Sunday to pull a small plane out of a bog a few hundred yards south of the Augusta Road where it had crashed Saturday afternoon.

Jefferson Fire Chief Walter Morris said Sunday that an eyewitness saw the plane, a Cessna 185, flying low over the trees just before 5:30 p.m.

“He thought it would not end well,” Morris said.

The plane, equipped with pontoons, came down in the bog, eventually striking an obstacle, causing it to flip over its nose and land on its roof.

When the Jefferson Fire Department arrived on the scene with 19 firefighters and emergency medical technicians, Morris said, two people had gotten out of the plane and were not injured. They were checked out at the scene.

Because firefighters smelled fuel, the crash was reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

A plane is towed Sunday with a rope to Route 126 in Jefferson.

The bog is adjacent to Dyer River, which flows into Dyer Long Pond, just west of the north end of Damariscotta Lake, Morris said.

Morris said he did not have the names of the two men in the plane.

A call to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was not returned Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s registry shows the plane belongs to David Hewitt of Newcastle. Attempts to reach Hewitt on Sunday were unsuccessful.

Joe Holland captured the aftermath of the crash on video using his drone.

Holland is the owner of the Jefferson Scoop, an ice cream shop about 3 miles away from the crash site. He was hosting a fundraiser for the Jefferson Fire Department on Saturday when the call of the crash came in.

Holland said he followed the department down the road, and at the request of Morris and with the approval of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy on scene, he put his drone in the air to survey the crash site.

Normally, deploying a drone over the scene of an emergency is illegal, he said.

A single-prop airplane is towed Sunday to Route 126 in Jefferson.

“The chief asked me to send it up to see if anyone was hurt,” Holland said.

The drone also looked for the presence of leaking fuel and debris, and to help find an optimal route for the first responders to the crash to get back out of the bog; it was not how they went in.

“That’s a bog with no bottom,” Holland said. “Any misstep could get you up to your waist (in the bog).”

Holland said people who live on North Mountain Road reported hearing the plane stall and restart three times before the plane went down.

“It looks like he was heading for Dyer Long Pond,” he said.

On Sunday, Holland said about 15 people were gathered at the bog to pull the plane out, first working to flip the plane right-side up, then pulling the plane across the bog with the help of trucks from Jordan Lumber in Kingfield to draw it close to the road embankment.

Holland has posted the video to YouTube and plans to post a second video of the recovery.

Morris said the crash was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman with the FAA, said Sunday that the aircraft owner needs approval from the FAA or the NTSB to move the aircraft. The aircraft has to be removed from the water and transported to a hangar at a local airport for the investigation and aircraft owners are responsible for having the aircraft moved.


]]> 0 watch a single prop airplane get towed Sunday to Route 126 in Jefferson.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:16:20 +0000
Retailers experiment with blue lights to deter drug use in bathrooms Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:58:52 +0000 WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Colored bulbs cast an eerie blue glow in the restroom of a convenience store where people who inject heroin and other drugs have been seeking the relative privacy of the stalls to shoot up.

The blue lights are meant to discourage people from using drugs in store bathrooms by making it more difficult for them to see their veins. It’s an idea that’s been around for years but is getting a fresh look as a result of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“The hardest-core opiate user still wants to be accurate. They want to make sure the needle goes in the right spot,” said Read Hayes, a University of Florida researcher and director of the Loss Prevention Research Council, a retail industry-supported group that is looking at the lights’ effectiveness.

The purpose of the blue light is to “disrupt that process” and force people to go somewhere else to take drugs, he said.

Turkey Hill Minit Markets, a 260-store chain based in Lancaster, is one of two convenience store chains and a supermarket chain working with the loss prevention group to field-test the blue bulbs.

Hayes, whose group devises methods to combat theft and violent crime at stores, said that the study is still in its infancy, but that initial feedback from stores that have been using them has been positive.

Earlier studies have questioned the lights’ deterrent effect, with people who use opioids telling researchers they’d shoot up in blue light if it meant avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Many public health experts oppose the practice, saying blue lights make people more likely to hurt themselves and stigmatize those in the grips of addiction.

And, for people accustomed to injecting themselves, there are ways around the lights.

Someone in withdrawal who obtains heroin is “going to want to use as soon as possible, even if the location is not optimal,” said Brett Wolfson-Stofko at the National Development & Research Institutes, who has studied injection drug use in public bathrooms.

Store owners say they have to do something.

In Luzerne County, where Turkey Hill has installed blue lights at a store in Wilkes-Barre, Coroner William Lisman said people have died from overdoses in the public bathrooms of fast-food restaurants, big-box stores and other retailers.

“It can very easily go unnoticed until somebody else wants to use that restroom,” he said. “Other patrons realize they can’t get in, the manager opens up and we find people deceased.”

At some Turkey Hill locations in hard-hit neighborhoods, store workers would often find used needles or even people slumped over from an overdose, said Matt Dorgan, the chain’s asset protection manager.

“We realized we need to do something to protect our associates and our customers,” he said.

The blue lights were part of a broader set of security measures at Turkey Hill that included brighter exterior lighting, new window signage to make store exteriors more visible from inside, and security training for store workers.

More than six months after the chain began using the blue lights in as many as 20 stores, “we’re not finding hardly anything anymore,” Dorgan said. “It’s a pretty dramatic reduction. We haven’t had a single overdose.”

]]> 0 public bathroom bathed in blue light is seen at this Turkey Hill convenience store in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The chain has installed the blue light bulbs in as many as 20 stores in hopes of discouraging drug use by making it harder for people to see their veins.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 19:08:34 +0000
Ye Female Society for Support of Gospel has staying power Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:53:59 +0000 WINSLOW — The women of Winslow’s Ye Female Society for the Support of the Gospel have a hard time articulating exactly what makes their group and its annual June meeting so special.

What keeps these members coming back each year, some said, might have a little to do with tradition or family connection to the society; it might be the feeling they have when they’re all together; and it just seems important for some hard-to-define reason.

Partly, members said, the society’s significance lies in its longevity – the fact that last Tuesday they held their 200th meeting at the same church where the group was founded. But what seems most remarkable is that over the last 200 years, very little about the group has changed.

It all began in 1819 when a group of 17 women, who were part of an agrarian society, got together with the goal of hiring a minister for their Protestant Christian church. Back then, when Maine was still a part of Massachusetts, it was a legal requirement to have a pastor in order to be recognized as a church. The group already had a building for services – now known as the Winslow Congregational Church on Lithgow Street. The group just needed a preacher.

Esther Mae Smith, left, a longtime member of Ye Female Society for the Support of the Gospel, receives a rose from President Emily Rowden Fournier during the 200th annual meeting. Smith, 89, has been a member since she was 5 years old. Some attend the meeting in period attire, such as Fournier, who is wearing a pink, rose-patterned Regency-era dress, embellished with lace on the neckline and sleeves. The Regency era in America is from 1811 to 1820.

At their first meeting, men and children played games outside while the women got down to business in the parlor of the church, drawing up a constitution for the newly founded Ye Female Society. The constitution stated that the group would meet once a year on the third Tuesday of June at 2 p.m., but more importantly for their purpose at the time, each member would pay 25 cents in dues annually as a way to pay for a minister.

“Twenty-five cents was a whole lot of money to people back in 1819, and it isn’t much for us,” Lyn Rowden, a member and former president of the society, said as part of her retelling of the society’s history at the 200th meeting where 27 other members gathered. Not only has the price of the dues remained the same, she noted, but the society’s constitution has never been amended.

The society still meets on the third Tuesday of June every year, and each meeting begins with readings from the Bible and the singing of hymns. They still read the society’s constitution, followed by a reading of last year’s minutes and an in memoriam presentation to honor any members who may have died since the last meeting.

A few years after its founding, the group decided to hold a program after the meeting. In years past, the women have heard about raising chickens, listened to tales of others’ travels to the Holy Land and even put on a fashion show. This year, Pearly LaChance gave a presentation about gold star mothers of World War I.

“They maintained these traditions all this time, and it gives you this constant line to our foremothers. I find that really beautiful,” Rowden said. “When I first came in the ’90s, I was so impressed by that continuity of history.”

Members of Ye Female Society for the Support of the Gospel sing hymns during the 200th annual meeting of the organization Tuesday at the Winslow Congregational Church in Winslow. Each member pays 25 cents in annual dues.

At this year’s meeting, the women honored the 17 founding mothers of the society during the in memoriam by reading their names aloud.

“We are built like a house on a foundation of some of the most powerful women in our community’s history,” Emily Rowden Fournier, who is the society’s current president and the daughter of Lyn Rowden, said during the service. Fournier, who joined several other members in donning period attire, wore a pink, rose-patterned Regency-era dress, embellished with lace on the neckline and sleeves.

Joyce Rushton, who grew up on Garland Road in Winslow, has been in the society for 82 years. Her mother, her three aunts and their stepmother were all a part of the society.

“When I was growing up, because I was young, June meeting was always very important because it was such a nice affair,” Rushton said. “You would need to get dressed up and you had to be on your best behavior. I learned social protocols from the ladies in this association – even if I’m up to no good now.”

Back when she was growing up, she said the June meeting was the social event of the year.

Esther Mae Smith, 89, who has been a member since she was 5 years old, agreed with Rushton, saying the scale of the event when she was young was much larger.

“I would come with my mother and grandmother when I was a little girl,” Smith said. “I was just in awe of the whole thing.”

When she was a teenager, the program that the society put on was a mock wedding. She couldn’t remember why the society put on the wedding, but she did know she played the bride. “I was the only one who could fit in the wedding gown,” she said. “The 104 pounds of me.”

“It meant a lot to be a member, it still does,” Smith said. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to go this year, but I’m here.”

While still steeped in 200 years of tradition, Fournier proposed that the society adopt one radical change.

The group’s president suggested the women change the date of the meeting to better accommodate the schedule of the modern woman. She said a Tuesday afternoon isn’t ideal for working mothers.

Members didn’t discuss the matter long, but there was hesitation on their faces. It would be the first time the group made a change to its historic constitution.

Fournier said they could all think about it.

If the date changes or remains, she said, “it is a moment in our year when we are transported to 1819.”


]]> 0 Rowden, left, and Susan Weber take part in the annual meeting, where Rowden did a retelling of the female society’s 200-year history. Sun, 24 Jun 2018 20:23:15 +0000
Dick Leitsch, early gay activist who led bar ‘sip-in,’ dies at 83 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:48:31 +0000 NEW YORK — A pioneering gay activist who led a 1966 “sip-in” at a New York City bar has died at the age of 83.

Dick Leitsch died Friday at a hospice in Manhattan.

His death from liver cancer was confirmed by his brother, John Leitsch, of Louisville, Kentucky.

Leitsch was a leader of the Mattachine Society, an early gay rights group.

His “sip-in” protest was meant to echo lunch counter sit-ins.

Leitsch and three friends sat down at a bar and announced, “We are homosexuals.”

The bartender clapped his hand over Leitsch’s glass and refused to serve them.

The moment was captured by a Village Voice photographer.

The protest led the state liquor authority to end its practice of using patronage by gay people as an excuse to revoke liquor licenses.

]]> 0 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 19:22:03 +0000
Celebrity moose finds home at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:39:56 +0000 GRAY — The Maine Wildlife Park’s newest resident is already an internet celebrity.

The 3-week-old female moose calf, who melted hearts across the country in a viral video of her with the dog of the family that found her in northern Maine, is now living at the 40-acre wildlife park off Route 26 in Gray.

Park Superintendent Curtis Johnson said it’s unclear if the roughly 40-pound calf – named Miss Maggie by the family in the Aroostook County town of Wallagrass that found her – can be rehabilitated and reintroduced into the wild or will remain at the park permanently.

“We don’t know yet what’s going to become of this calf in terms of will she be released, (or) because of all the human care will she have to stay in captivity at a place like ours,” Johnson said.

The park is run by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.

Johnson noted that the park does not usually rehabilitate animals, and generally just takes in those that cannot be released back into the wild. But the moose calf and two deer fawns now at the facility could be exceptions depending on how they progress.

“Moose calves in particular are very, very delicate,” he said. “They have specific dietary needs, and it’s hard to simulate those natural foods in captivity. No milk is as good as mother’s milk.”

The moose and deer are bottle-fed every 3½ to four hours, and will start on solid food in the upcoming weeks, he said.

Johnson said moose are “more docile” and more easily imprinted on than deer are, and he expects to know whether the calf can return to the wild sometime this summer.

If the calf ends up staying at the park, she could eventually be integrated with the three other moose already on the property, but for now she is kept by herself.

“Even as adults, they are hard to keep,” said Johnson, adding that an adult moose can eat up to 50 pounds of food per day.

Johnson was unaware of any other facilities in Maine that are able to rehabilitate moose.

“It’s a rare occurrence,” said Lee Kantar, DIF&W’s state moose biologist, about finding a young moose alone and alive in the wild. “We don’t see this very often.”

Like Johnson, Kantar described the process of raising a baby moose in captivity as a difficult one.

“The challenge then is getting a newborn calf through the summer, I think,” Kantar said. “The whole mother’s milk thing can’t be overstated.”

Kantar said the animals can grow to over 400 pounds within their first year.

“It’s just astronomical the amount of growth that happens,” Kantar said.

Johnson said young moose aren’t generally abandoned except in situations where the mother may have been injured or killed.

“The average animal that’s found alone is alone for natural reasons and natural causes,” he said. Mother deer and moose will sometimes leave their young for hours to look for food.

DIF&W encourages people who encounter seemingly abandoned animals to leave them alone when possible, using the slogan: “If you care, leave them there.”

In some cases, Johnson said, bringing a wild animal into captivity can amount to a “death sentence.”

Johnson said he couldn’t speculate as to why this calf was found alone, but focused on the positives of having the moose at the park, which he called an “educational opportunity to tell people all about moose, and moose management, and the species, and how they’re doing right now in the state of Maine.”

He said the addition of a new animal can sometimes help bolster visibility and attendance at the park, and further its mission of wildlife education.

“This is an exceptional case because that video, of course, went viral. And the coverage has been on a national level,” Johnson said.

Matt Junker can be contacted at 781-3661 ext. 123 or at: Twitter: MattJunker

]]> 0 3-week-old female moose rescued in Wallagrass, Maine, has taken up residence at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, much to the amusement of the park's guests Sunday.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 19:26:27 +0000
U.S. imported more seafood in 2017 than any prior year Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:58:44 +0000 The United States imported more seafood last year than at any point in its history, and the nation’s trade deficit in the sector is growing, federal data show.

The U.S. imported more than 6 billion pounds of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees American fisheries. The country exported more than 3.6 billion pounds valued at about $6 billion.

The widening gap comes at a time when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who heads the federal agency that includes NOAA, has identified reducing the deficit as a priority for the government.

The U.S. is home to major commercial fisheries for species such as Pacific salmon, New England lobster and Alaska pollock, but it imports more than 90 percent of the seafood the public consumes.

Ross and others in U.S. fisheries are looking at new strategies to cut the deficit, including increasing the amount of aquaculture-based farming, said Jennie Lyons, a NOAA spokeswoman.

The U.S. trades in seafood with countries all over the world, and the countries it buys the most from include Canada, China and Chile. Major buyers of U.S. seafood include China, Japan and South Korea.

While U.S. fishermen would love to grow commercial fisheries, it’s important to note that domestic and imported seafood are both important parts of the supply chain and support thousands of American jobs, said Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute.

He added that the trade imbalance isn’t caused by a lack of fish to catch in U.S. waters, as NOAA announced this spring the number of overfished fish stocks in the country is at an all-time low.

“Our stocks are fished to the maximum sustainable yield. In order to feed Americans, and to feed the raw materials into the jobs that are needed, we have to get it from overseas,” Gibbons said.

Some of the seafood items that American consumers are especially fond of, including tuna, salmon and shrimp, are heavily dependent on foreign imports to make it to U.S. markets and restaurants. Some species, such as lobsters, are caught in the U.S., exported to other countries that have greater processing capacity, and return to the U.S. as imports.

In this way, the U.S. and its trade partners depend on each other to satisfy worldwide demand for seafood products, said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

“Our relationship is vital, and it is symbiotic,” he said.

There are also some fish the U.S. has imported more heavily in recent years because domestic stocks have dried up. One example is Atlantic cod, which was once the subject of a huge fishery in New England. That industry has collapsed from overfishing and environmental changes.

The U.S. imported more than a half billion dollars’ worth of cod in 2017. That number has grown by more than $100 million since 2014, with fish that once came from Massachusetts now coming from places like Iceland and Norway.

Exports of other species, such as lobster, are up because of emerging markets in Asia, said Mike Tourkistas, founder of East Coast Seafood in Topsfield, Massachusetts. Lobster exports have grown by more than $250 million since 2007, driven by growth in China.

“With lobster, we know that we have had some very big years,” Tourkistas said.

]]> 0 Atlantic salmon move across a conveyor belt as they are brought aboard a harvesting boat near Eastport. Federal data say the United States imported more seafood in 2017 than at any point in its history, and the nation's trade deficit in the sector is growing. Some of the seafood items that American consumers are especially fond of, including salmon, tuna and shrimp, are heavily dependent on foreign imports to make it to U.S. markets and restaurants. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:08:02 +0000
Roseanne Barr: ‘I made myself a hate magnet’ with racist tweet Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:54:55 +0000 NEW YORK — In an emotional interview, Roseanne Barr said she definitely feels remorse for the racist tweet that prompted ABC to cancel the revival of “Roseanne.”

Barr recorded a podcast interview with her longtime friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who on Sunday published an edited transcript and recording of the conversation. In the interview, Barr claims she “never would have wittingly called any black person a monkey.”

Barr spoke through tears for much of the interview, her first since the cancellation of “Roseanne.” She also lamented that some people don’t accept her explanation blaming the sleep drug Ambien for a tweet that likened former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to a person created by the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.”

“I said to God, ‘I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong. I’m going to accept what the consequences are,’ and I do, and I have,” Barr said. “But they don’t ever stop. They don’t accept my apology, or explanation. And I’ve made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it’s just horrible. It’s horrible.”

Barr said of her tweet that she “didn’t mean what they think I meant.”

“But I have to face that it hurt people,” Barr said. “When you hurt people even unwillingly there’s no excuse. I don’t want to run off and blather on with excuses. But I apologize to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean. It was my own ignorance, and there’s no excuse for that ignorance.” ABC announced Thursday that it will this fall air a 10-episode Conner family sitcom without Barr in it. In a statement issued by the show’s producer, Barr said she agreed to the settlement to save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members.

ABC swiftly axed “Roseanne” last month after Barr’s tweet. ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said it was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

Though “Roseanne” prompted outrage for jokes about minority characters and an episode some called Islamophobic, it was watched by an enormous television audience. The first episode in March was seen by more than 25 million people.

“I’ve lost everything,” Barr said on the podcast. “And I regretted it before I lost everything.”

– From news service reports

]]> 0 Barr, left, and Laurie Metcalf appear in an episode of the rebooted "Roseanne," which ABC canceled after Barr's racist tweet.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:13:25 +0000
Former South Korean premier, spy agency founder dies at 92 Sun, 24 Jun 2018 21:21:43 +0000 SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Jong-pil, the founder of South Korea’s spy agency whose political skills also helped him serve twice as prime minister, first under his dictator boss and later under a man his agency kidnapped, has died. He was 92.

Kim was declared dead on arrival at Seoul’s Soonchunhyang University Hospital from his home Saturday, hospital official Lee Mi-jong said. He described the cause of death as age-related complications.

Kim Jong-pil

South Korea’s presidential office released a statement saying Kim’s “fingerprints and footprints that marked South Korea’s modern political history will not be easily erased.”

A retired lieutenant colonel, Kim was a key member of a 1961 coup that put army Maj. Gen. Park Chung-hee in power until his 1979 assassination. Park was the father of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, who was ousted from office last year over an explosive corruption scandal and is now serving a 24-year prison term.

After the senior Park seized power, Kim created and headed the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, a predecessor of the current National Intelligence Service, before serving as his prime minister, the country’s No. 2 post, from 1971 to 1975.

Park Chung-hee used the spy agency as a tool to suppress his political rivals at home, including then-opposition leader Kim Dae-jung, who became South Korea’s president in the late 1990s.

A government fact-finding panel said in 2007 that KCIA agents kidnapped Kim Dae-jung from a Tokyo hotel in 1973, days before he was to start a coalition of Japan-based South Korean organizations to work for their country’s democratization.

It was the first official confirmation of one of the most notorious KCIA operations to stifle dissent.

Kim Jong-pil didn’t direct the agency at the time of the 1973 kidnapping, and 25 years later he joined forces with Kim Dae-jung and helped him win the 1997 presidential election. He served as Kim Dae-jung’s prime minister from 1998 to 2000 under a power-sharing plan.

The 2007 panel report did not draw a clear conclusion on whether the kidnapping was ultimately aimed at killing Kim Dae-jung, who said his abductors nearly dumped him from a ship at sea before they stopped when a U.S. military helicopter made a low pass over the vessel.

Related to Park by marriage, Kim Jong-pil was his No. 2 man for much of his rule. But after Park was gunned down by his intelligence chief during a late-night drinking party in October 1979 and a new military junta led by Maj. Gen. Chun Doo-hwan seized power through a coup, Kim was accused of corruption and surrendered property worth millions of dollars before moving to the United States.

Kim returned to South Korea after Chun, bowing to weeks of massive public protests, allowed a free, direct presidential election in 1987, which marked South Korea’s transition toward a genuine democracy.

]]> 0 Jong-pilSun, 24 Jun 2018 17:36:00 +0000
New owner has grand vision for former church property in Augusta Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:39:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — The new owner of the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church property envisions the spectacular, though recently neglected, granite-and-marble church as a community gathering space where people from all walks of life can talk, listen to music, get married or take part in other events.

Adam F. Turner, who grew up in Chelsea, most recently lived in Hallowell and now is living on the former St. Mark’s property in Augusta as he works to convert it to new uses. The church itself is still largely intact and filled with elaborate stained glass windows and a pipe organ.

In a recent interview, Turner said he plans to convert the church’s former parish hall into apartments, its historic rectory into residential housing or possibly a bed-and-breakfast, and the stone church into a community space that could host fundraisers, concerts, plays, meetings and other gatherings he said “that are positive events that are uplifting to the community.”

He has experience turning “distressed” properties into residential rental properties and was drawn to the property, he said, by his interest in preserving historic buildings, in particular church buildings, which he said are increasingly at risk of being lost to history as the congregations that built them no longer can afford to keep them.

“Architecturally, these buildings represent the pinnacle of what human beings are capable of when we work together to build something,” the 43-year-old Turner said, speaking inside the former church, which held its last service at the end of 2014.

“We’re coming to the point in human history where magnificent church buildings are falling into disrepair and are in danger of being pieced out or torn down, or churches are abandoning them. These buildings are our heritage, and we will probably never again see the intersection of craftsmanship, wealth and devotion that was needed to build them. They were working for a higher purpose.”

The catch is, Turner’s plans for a community gathering space at the church aren’t allowed under city zone rules in the residential zone, where the church property is located. And those plans also could be hampered by a lack of off-street parking, other than a small driveway serving the rectory off Summer Street.

Matt Nazar, the city development director, said using the church as a community gathering space to host public events probably would require an amendment to the city’s land use ordinance, a change that would need authorization from the City Council.

Turner, who bought the church about a month ago, said he’s aware the reuse would require a zoning change but said he’s hopeful the city, and neighbors, will see the value in the church being used in such a way, as a way to preserve the structure by finding a new use for it.

He said he’s not a religious person but appreciates the history of the building and the good work done by its former parishioners.

He said he doesn’t expect to make money hosting events in the church, if he’s allowed to do so, but does hope gatherings there could generate at least some money to help pay for the cost of maintaining and owning the Summer Street Gothic revival church, which was built in 1884 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Turner makes his living by buying distressed properties, fixing them up mostly by himself, and renting them out as apartments, including a former school building in Gardiner containing six rental units, and an 1820 three-unit apartment building on Central Street in Hallowell.

He anticipates putting around three apartments, to be rented at market rates, in the former St. Mark’s parish hall, which was previously home to the Augusta Food Bank, Addie’s Attic clothing bank, Everyday Basics toiletries pantry, and, in the cold months, the Augusta Community Warming Center.

And he might seek to start a bed-and-breakfast in the 1820 Weston-Fuller home, the church rectory at 11 Summer St., the boyhood home of Melville Fuller, the eighth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nazar said converting the parish hall into apartments, which is an allowed use in the zone, probably will require a subdivision and site plan review; and turning the rectory into a bed-and-breakfast, which is a conditional use in that zoning district, also would require review by the Augusta Planning Board.

Turner said he took a loan out to buy the combined properties and plans to do most of the renovation work needed himself.

He said that’s one reason he feels he can afford to renovate and maintain the buildings, including the church building, which church officials decided to sell because their congregation membership was dwindling and didn’t want to spend money. Church leaders said it would be spent better on helping others in the community rather than on maintaining the facilities. He said he should be able to do work on the property himself more cheaply than the church could hire people to do.

Connie MacDonald, former senior warden for St. Mark’s, said the congregation’s numbers shrank so much it didn’t make sense for them to keep such a large church building. She’s hopeful selling it will result in it being put to a new use, and preserved.

The sale, she said, “is a good thing from the standpoint that somebody else can do something with the beautiful church building. It’s absolutely beautiful, with marble and granite and wonderful stained glass windows. An icon, that’s for sure. And it has wonderful acoustics, for concerts and that kind of thing. For a number of years we had an organ concert there.”

St. Mark’s parishioners have since joined with the former Prince of Peace Lutheran Church parishioners to form Emmanuel Lutheran Episcopal Church at 209 Eastern Ave.

In 2016 St. Mark’s leaders sold the bells, which once rang in the church’s tall bell tower, and also sold a Tiffany stained glass window featuring the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. But most of the church building remains intact, the pews still in place.

MacDonald said the proceeds from the sale of the St. Mark’s property would go to the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

Both MacDonald and Turner declined to reveal the purchase price.

MacDonald said she’s not sure whether Turner has the resources to save and re-purpose the property, but she said he seems persistent, and she hopes he is successful.

What would become of the church property has been a closely followed saga since the congregation stopped holding services there. In July 2016 rumors that the property could be purchased by Bread of Life Ministries, which operates a homeless shelter on Hospital Street and a soup kitchen on Water Street, prompted city officials to issue a moratorium on any new group, boarding or rooming homes, to allow time to alter city ordinances to clarify what is allowed within that zone. Church leaders said the city’s action hampered their ability to sell the property.

City officials also said the social services previously provided in the parish hall, which have since moved to the Emmanuel church property on Eastern Avenue, wouldn’t be allowed to remain at the former St. Mark’s site, as those uses weren’t allowed in that zone if they weren’t being provided as part of church activities.

The former St. Mark’s Church already has hosted one somewhat impromptu event since Turner bought it, a funeral ceremony for a former parishioner.

Nazar said the city staff had a brief conversation with Turner, after some attendees of the funeral service parked in the parking lot for Lithgow Public Library, which is diagonally across Pleasant Street from the church. He said Turner said the event got more attendees than expected and he apologized to the library staff that some had used the library parking lot. Nazar said the city took no action and the funeral was a one-time event.

“We contacted him and we had a conversation. He seems like a very nice gentleman who is easy to deal with and is interested in making sure he follows whatever rules he needs to follow,” Nazar said of Turner. “He expressed interest in being a good neighbor. We look forward to working with him.”

Nazar noted that parking will be a concern if and when Turner proposes to convert the former church building into a community gathering space.

Turner said he initially planned to make his residence in the church building, but once he spent time there, he decided it would be better used as a space for the community to gather for positive, uplifting events.

“I hope the building will become a place where we can enjoy music and the communication of ideas, and a stronghold for anyone who feels marginalized by some of the ignorance that is happening in today’s political climate,” he said. “All people, the LGBQT community, the immigrant and refugee communities, homeless and underhoused people, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, pagans, conservatives, progressives, clowns, whoever wants to come together in community and support each other as people while supporting the arts and the preservation of the building will be welcome here.”


]]> 0 owner Adam Turner sits in the former St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Friday in Augusta. Turner plans to convert much of the property into housing and the stone church into a community space.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 20:34:22 +0000
Trump administration says it has plan to reunite separated children still in its custody Sun, 24 Jun 2018 17:35:04 +0000 The Trump administration said late Saturday that it has 2,053 “separated minors” in custody, and a formal process has been established to reunite them with their parents before deportation.

The joint declaration by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services came three days after President Trump’s hastily crafted executive order abruptly halting the widely denounced practice of taking away the children of migrant parents who cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The federal agencies said 522 children have already been returned to their parents, and the government would allow mothers and fathers facing deportation to request that their children are sent home with them.

“The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families,” the statement said. “This process is well-coordinated.”

The international furor over the separation system was barely mollified by the president’s order in recent days as key federal agencies struggled to explain how they would put families back together and ensure migrants’ children did not remain in U.S. foster care thousands of miles from their parents.

There have been multiple cases in recent weeks of parents sent back to Central America without their children, who had no idea where their children may be held at one of more than 100 government shelters.

Saturday’s statement said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has established the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in South Texas “as the primary family reunification and removal center for adults in their custody.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, toured this facility Saturday afternoon with a congressional delegation. The center, located in Los Fresnos, Texas, currently houses women whose children have been taken from them, including breastfeeding mothers.

Pingree, speaking via telephone from an airport on her return to Maine, said none of the agency officials and detention center staff they spoke to Saturday had any information about if or how separated children would be reunified with their parents.

“It would be very positive news if the administration has a real plan and knows how to find the families and put the them back together, but after a whole day of a lot of questions from 25 members of Congress, nobody (in South Texas) had answers about this, so it’s really surprising that they had this all in the works,” Pingree said.

Under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” crackdown on illegal immigration, parents who cross illegally with children have been sent to face criminal prosecution while their kids are assigned to foster care facilities run by Health and Human Services.

The parents are typically then transferred to adult immigration jails run by ICE, with little ability to know where their children are or how to regain custody. The lack of coordination between the two agencies has led to weeks of confusion and swelling numbers of children in government care who were at risk of being stranded in American foster care, thousands of miles from their parents.

Now, under the government’s new plan, parents will receive more information about the whereabouts of their children and telephone operators will facilitate more frequent communication, according to Saturday’s statement.

The reunification plan will have a few exceptions, according to the late-night communique.

“There will be a small number of children who were separated for reasons other than zero tolerance that will remain separated,” the statement said. “Generally only if the familial relationship cannot be confirmed, we believe the adult is a threat to the safety of the child, or the adult is a criminal alien.”

ICE will also implement a system for tracking separated family members and rejoining them before their deportation as a unit. It also will put parents separated from their children in designated units where they will have easier access to communication, and ICE agents will coordinate travel planning and documentation with Health and Human Services personnel to make sure parents and children depart the United States together, the statement said.

Staff writer Colin Woodard contributed to this report.

]]> 0 families line up to enter the central bus station after they were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Sunday in McAllen, Texas. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services said 522 children have already been returned to their parents.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 20:44:35 +0000
Trump advocates depriving undocumented immigrants of due-process rights Sun, 24 Jun 2018 17:18:21 +0000 WASHINGTON — President Trump on Sunday explicitly advocated depriving undocumented immigrants of their due-process rights, arguing that people who cross the border into the United States illegally must immediately be deported without trial – and sowing more confusion among Republicans ahead of a planned immigration vote this week.

In a pair of tweets sent while being driven to his Virginia golf course, Trump described immigrants as invaders and wrote that U.S. immigration laws are “a mockery” and must be changed to take away trial rights from undocumented migrants.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”

The president continued in a second tweet, “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit – we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”

The latest presidential exhortations came as House Republicans were prepping for a vote on comprehensive immigration legislation, after a more hard-line bill failed last week. Neither bill has Democratic support, and prospects for the second one passing appeared dim, although the White House still supports it.

“I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the president is still 100 percent behind us,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the bill, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Some Republican lawmakers are preparing a more narrow immigration bill that would address one of the flaws in Trump’s executive order mandating that children and parents not be separated during their detention.

“I think, at minimum, we have to deal with family separation,” McCaul said.

The 1997 “Flores settlement” requires that migrant children be released from detention after 20 days, but the new Republican measure would allow for children and their parents to stay together in detention facilities past 20 days.

In the event that the broader immigration bill fails to pass the House this week, the White House is preparing to throw its support behind the narrower Flores fix, which is expected to garner wider support among lawmakers, according to a White House official.

This behind-the-scenes legislative work amounts to a reversal from Trump’s position on Friday, when he tweeted that “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November.”

The tweet demoralized Republicans as they headed home for the weekend but did not end talks about what the House might pass.

Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said Sunday that it was premature to announce which measures Trump would sign but urged Congress to act quickly to address the immigration issue broadly.

“The White House has consistently raised our concern about the Flores settlement with Congress,” Short said. “It’s, in fact, an issue that previous administrations grappled with also, and we anticipate Congress acting on that sooner rather than later.”

Brendan Buck, counselor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Sunday that a solution specifically dealing with family separation had been “a topic of discussion all week” but that there was not one policy or bill that Republicans had cohered behind.

Meanwhile, Trump’s attack Sunday on the due-process rights of immigrants follows a week in which he has been fixated on the immigration court system, which he has called “ridiculous.” The president has balked at proposals from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other lawmakers to add court personnel to help process more immigration cases.

“I don’t want judges,” Trump said Tuesday. “I want border security. I don’t want to try people. I don’t want people coming in. Do you know, if a person comes in and puts one foot on our ground, it’s essentially, ‘Welcome to America, welcome to our country.’ You never get them out, because they take their name, they bring the name down, they file it, then they let the person go. They say, ‘Show back up to court in one year from now.'”

In his remarks Tuesday before the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Trump suggested that many immigrants were “cheating” because they were following instructions from their attorneys.

“They have professional lawyers,” the president said. “Some are for good, others are do-gooders, and others are bad people. And they tell these people exactly what to say. They say, ‘Say the following’ – they write it down – ‘I am being harmed in my country. My country is extremely dangerous. I fear for my life.’ ”

Trump said lawyers tell their immigrant clients, “Say that. Congratulations. You’ll never be removed.”

]]> 0 sign saying "Trump Hotel" is hanging on a sign by a protester after they marched to the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on Saturday in Homestead, Fla.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 22:39:06 +0000
King says current immigrant wave at southern border should be seen as refugees Sun, 24 Jun 2018 14:21:29 +0000 U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says the current wave of immigrants showing up at the U.S.-Mexican border should be considered refugees rather than illegal immigrants because they are fleeing for their lives, not seeking economic opportunity.

King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to talk about the immigration crisis that erupted after the Trump administration started separating immigrant children from their parents in May, a practice President Trump stopped last week following a national outcry over repeated false claims that he had no power to do so.

King said that under U.S. law, immigrants have the right to seek refugee status.

“This is very different than the waves of illegal immigrants coming across the border 15 or 20 years ago from Mexico simply for jobs,” said King, speaking from Brunswick.

King offered a contrasting view to an earlier guest, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., about what the country should do about people entering the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, Central American countries wracked by gang violence.

King said he disagreed with Lankford’s idea of defunding the Flores agreement, a 1997 federal court decision that limits the detention of immigrant children to 20 days and led the Trump administration to start separating immigrant children from their parents. “It doesn’t make sense,” King said of Lankford’s proposal.

King said the immigration system needs more judges instead. “There is a bureaucratic backlog,” he said.

King said it can take a year or longer for a refugee claim to be adjudicated.

“The question is what do you do in the interim,” he said.

King suggested there might be a possibility of compromise between some Republicans and Democrats to solve the crisis.

He said he was surprised to find himself sitting in the office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, last week with both Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

“There is an opportunity for a Feinstein-Cruz bill. When did you think that would ever happen?” King said.

King said he wants to figure out what is going on in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. “I have been trying to figure out what we can do to stabilize these regimes,” he said.

King said the U.S. government should stop the practice of detaining immigrants seeking asylum and look for alternatives to ensure that asylum seekers continue through the legal process. He said data show there are alternatives that are a lot cheaper than detaining immigrants while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.

“We are a nation of immigrants, except for African-Americans, who were brought here against their will, and Native Americans. We are asylum seekers. The Pilgrims were escaping religious persecution,” he said.

Asked by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd whether he would agree to fund Trump’s proposed border wall in exchange for other immigration concessions, King said the Senate already tried that and it didn’t work.

“Ironically, we did that. It was in a sense DACA for the wall,” King said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

King said an amendment of his that was co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., had the votes in the Senate to provide full funding for the wall and create a path toward citizenship for the undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who entered the country as children with their parents.

“We had the votes. They had the wall in their hands and they let it go because they wanted more. They keep raising the ante. … That is one of the problems. We never know where the goal line is,” he said.

Todd asked King what he thought about a proposal by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

King said that would go too far. He said the country needs an agency to administer immigration laws. But, he said, the actions of the agency should be examined.

“That is part of our responsibility to provide oversight,” he said.

King said he has questions about some of ICE’s actions, such as the traffic stops in Maine last week that resulted in the arrest of a Haitian national and nine drug seizures during the 11 hours the U.S. Border Patrol stopped southbound traffic on Interstate 95 in Penobscot County.

“There are a lot of questions to be answered,” he said.


]]> 0, 24 Jun 2018 22:51:32 +0000
How Maine’s members of Congress voted last week Sun, 24 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Along with roll call votes this week, the House also passed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Mental Health Parity Act (H.R. 3192), to ensure access to mental health services for children under the program; the Advancing High Quality Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders in Medicare Act (H.R. 5605), to provide for an opioid-use disorder treatment demonstration program; the Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act (H.R. 5590), to require the secretary of Health and Human Services to provide for an action plan on recommendations for changes under Medicare and Medicaid to prevent opioid addictions and enhance access to medication-assisted treatment; and the Shielding Public Spaces from Vehicular Terrorism Act (H.R. 4627), to authorize expenditures to combat emerging terrorist threats, including vehicular attacks.


SYNTHETIC DRUG LABELING: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act (H.R. 2851). The amendment would adopt a six-part test to determine whether a given synthetic drug is intended for human consumption, and therefore subject to federal laws against the manufacture and distribution of synthetic drugs. Thornberry said that currently, drug makers disguise their intended market by labeling their products as not intended for human consumption, making the new test necessary “to remove a get-out-of-jail-free card that these purveyors of poison have been using to try to evade responsibility.” An amendment opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said it would spur more mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug purveyors, and the judicial system should instead focus on treatment and education as ways to combat drug addiction. The vote, on June 15, was 223 yeas to 158 nays.

NAYS: Chellie Pingree, D-1st District

YEAS: Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District

SYNTHETIC DRUGS: The House has passed the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act (H.R. 2851), sponsored by Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., to create a schedule A classifying synthetic drugs as controlled substances under federal authority and subject trafficking in those drugs to criminal penalties. Katko said listing the synthetic drugs, which mimic marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and other drugs, “will give local, state, and federal law enforcement the necessary tools to target synthetic substances and the criminals who traffic them.” A bill opponent, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said the schedule A classification was unnecessary because existing law already banned trafficking in synthetic drugs, and Scott said it would also “add to the problem of mass incarceration” by unfairly subjecting people to long prison sentences. The vote, on June 15, was 239 yeas to 142 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

IMPROVING DISPOSAL OF OPIOIDS: The House has passed the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687), sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. The bill would direct the Food and Drug Administration to issue requirements for opioid manufacturers to take measures that change the packaging and disposal of their products, in order to reduce overprescribing and abuse of the opioids. Hudson said many cases of opioid addiction come from surpluses of prescribed opioids remaining in the home after they are not needed, and the bill was a first step to reducing that oversupply. The vote, on June 19, was 342 yeas to 13 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

SENIORS AND NARCOTICS PRESCRIPTIONS: The House has passed the Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement Communities Protection Act (H.R. 5676), sponsored by Rep. Thomas MacArthur, R-N.J. The bill would authorize Medicare to suspend payments to a pharmacy under suspicion of fraud, pending the results of a Medicare investigation of that pharmacy. MacArthur cited cases of pharmacies using stolen Medicare numbers to fraudulently bill Medicare for opioid prescriptions, and said payment suspensions will stop Medicare dollars from having to pay for prescriptions filled by the very pharmacies suspected of fraudulently billing the agency. The vote, on June 19, was 356 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

MEDICAID AND OPIOID ADDICTION: The House has passed the Individuals in Medicaid Deserve Care that is Appropriate and Responsible in its Delivery Act (H.R. 5797), sponsored by Rep. Mimi Walters, R-Calif. The bill would allow states to receive payments from Medicaid for enrollees aged 21 to 64 with opioid-use disorders who are provided inpatient treatment services in institutions for mental diseases. Walters said the bill, by lifting the current ban on Medicaid funding of the inpatient services, would expand options for combating the opioid epidemic. An opponent, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., faulted the bill for failing to expand overall federal funding of state-provided Medicaid services. The vote, on June 20, was 261 yeas to 155 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

SHARING SUBSTANCE ABUSE INFORMATION: The House has passed the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act (H.R. 6082), sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to authorize the release of an insured patient’s substance-use disorder records to various health care providers and health insurers. Mullin said ending the current regime of federal criminal penalties for sharing substance use records without the patient’s written consent would, by giving health care providers more information about a patient’s health situation, improve their ability to provide effective care. An opponent, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said the bill’s weakening of privacy protections for people with substance-abuse problems would leave those people vulnerable to unwarranted harm resulting from employers and governments learning of their problems. The vote, on June 20, was 357 yeas to 57 nays.

YEAS: Pingree, Poliquin

IMMIGRATION REFORM: The House has rejected the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. The bill would have eliminated the diversity visa program, barred government entities from adopting so-called sanctuary city policies for blocking compliance with immigration laws, mandated use of the E-Verify program for verifying an employee’s citizenship status, and assigned DACA beneficiaries with renewable legal nonimmigrant status. Goodlatte called the bill a measure “to strengthen our borders, close gaping loopholes, curtail endemic fraud, and enhance interior immigration enforcement so that our nation won’t face the same dilemma” it now faces with DACA in the future. An opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said: “This bill fails to repair our broken immigration system and, indeed, in many ways, makes it even worse, and all without substantially helping the Dreamers.” The vote, on June 21, was 193 yeas to 231 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin

FARM AND FOOD STAMPS BILL: The House has passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R. 2), sponsored by Rep. Michael K. Conaway, R-Texas. The bill would reauthorize Agriculture Department programs through fiscal 2023, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps; farm regulation and subsidy programs; and trade in crop products. Conaway called the bill “a safety net to see” farmers and ranchers through a deep slump in their income due to low commodity prices by helping them fight against predatory trade subsidies by China and other countries, while also addressing the opioid epidemic and the need for better broadband Internet access. A bill opponent, Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said it would cut $23 billion of vital SNAP benefits, did not do enough to help farmers, and “fails our energy independence goals” by slashing government backing for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The vote, on June 21, was 213 yeas to 211 nays.

NAYS: Pingree

YEAS: Poliquin


2019 MILITARY BUDGET: The Senate has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515), sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to authorize up to $716 billion of spending on the Defense Department and military construction programs in fiscal 2019. A supporter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said investment in the military was needed because “America no longer enjoys the comparative advantage it once had over our competitors and adversaries,” despite still playing a central role in providing security and peaceful relations across the planet. The vote, on June 18, was 85 yeas to 10 nays.

YEAS: Susan Collins R-Maine; Angus King I-Maine

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment expressed the sense of the Senate that Congress and the Energy Department should continue to increase scientific research and development funding at government and non-government organizations. The vote, on June 19, was 93 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

ADVANCED NUCLEAR REACTORS: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would increase funding for the use of spent nuclear fuel from the Navy’s nuclear reactors at Energy Department laboratories that are developing advanced nuclear reactor designs. The vote, on June 20, was 87 yeas to 9 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

RETURNING UNSPENT FUNDS: The Senate has rejected a motion to discharge from committee the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act (H.R. 3), sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The bill would rescind, and return to the Treasury, $14.8 billion that was appropriated for spending by various federal agencies but has not been spent. A bill supporter, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said canceling the spending would be “one small step toward sanity” by Congress as a measure of budgetary discipline. An opponent, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., called it an unconscionable move to “cut children’s health insurance, affordable housing investments, infrastructure, rural development, and innovative energy programs.” The vote, on June 20, was 48 yeas to 50 nays.

NAYS: Collins, King

TRANSPARENCY AT THE VA: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would bar funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies funded by the appropriations bill for the denial of documents requested by agency inspectors general. A supporter, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said evidence of the VA in particular seeking to hide damaging documents from its inspector general showed that Congress must ensure that it is “held accountable to the veterans and taxpayers” by stopping it from blocking the uncovering of misbehavior. The vote, on June 20, was unanimous with 96 yeas.

YEAS: Collins, King

VETERANS AND EMERGING TECH INDUSTRIES: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would direct the Energy Department to analyze the possibility of partnering with colleges and private businesses near military bases to train veterans to enter the cybersecurity, energy, and artificial intelligence workforces. The vote, on June 21, was unanimous with 96 yeas.

YEAS: Collins, King

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES RULE: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895). The amendment would have voided the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule. Lee said if not overturned, the rule will subject land users to ruinous and arbitrary fines from bureaucrats for actions taken on land that should not be under federal water management authority. An amendment opponent, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Waters of the United States was already being revoked by the Trump administration and the courts, and added that the amendment belonged in an authorizing bill rather than an appropriations bill. The vote to table, on June 21, was 62 yeas to 34 nays.

YEAS: Collins, King

]]> 0 Sat, 23 Jun 2018 15:41:56 +0000
In governor’s race full of uncertainty, only sure thing will be LePage Sun, 24 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 AUGUSTA — As the race for Maine’s next governor shifts from primary contests to the general election, voters will be hearing a lot about Janet Mills, the Democrat, and Shawn Moody, the Republican.

But the primary victories by Mills and Moody also mean voters are sure to hear a lot about the outgoing governor – the Republican firebrand who reshaped Maine’s conservative brand and imprinted a combative tone on state politics.

“To some extent, some of this is a referendum on Paul LePage’s eight years as governor,” said James Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Melcher said he expects a close contest, especially with two fairly well-known independent candidates, Terry Hayes and Alan Caron, also on the ballot. Victory on Nov. 6 will depend on many of the basic necessities, he said: how Moody and Mills run their respective campaigns, what they say, what they do, who comes to their respective sides and whether their parties unify behind them.

But the LePage legacy also will be a factor.

Moody and all his rivals in the Republican primary frequently likened themselves to LePage or sought to link themselves to him and his policies. Moody benefited from inheriting a campaign staff from LePage, including daughter Lauren LePage.

On the Democratic side, Mills and the other hopefuls vowed to be the opposite of the brash-talking and sometimes explosive LePage. And nobody made the message resonate more than Mills, who for the last six years, as the state’s attorney general, has dogged LePage and been a foil to his conservative agenda.

LePage’s public complaints about Mills – he even filed a lawsuit at one point accusing her of abusing her powers – served to raise Mills’ profile statewide, both for the Democrats who loathe LePage and the Republicans who love him.


Other themes between Moody and Mills also will play out, including Moody staking out the role of outsider and job creator who brings a “fresh set of eyes” to the business of state government, and Mills’ image of a long-serving public servant, an elected official with a record of achievements and understanding of the inner workings of Augusta.

Soon after Mills secured the Democratic Party’s nomination last week, both candidates and parties began crafting their competing narratives.

“Attorney General Janet Mills has been a relentless fighter on behalf of Maine families and hardworking Maine people, working to ensure that every person – regardless of where they live in our state – has a fair shot at success,” the Maine Democratic Party said in a statement. “She has stood up for affordable, accessible health care, battled the opioid crisis, and defended Maine’s natural resources.”

At the same time, Mills’ nomination drew this scowl from Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party: “Democrats nominated their third consecutive career politician to run for governor in Janet Mills. We look forward to comparing her record and positions with job-creating businessman Shawn Moody.”

A happy Janet Mills talks to reporters Wednesday after the ranked-choice voting tabulation showed she had won the Democratic primary for governor. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

The Maine Democratic Party’s reaction to Moody’s win was equally disparaging.

“Shawn Moody is Paul LePage’s third term and the governor is thrilled about it,” Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, said. “At a time when Maine lags the nation in economic growth, the opioid crisis rages on, more children are hungry and living in poverty, and the will of the people is being disregarded, why would we want to elect a governor who will continue to do the same things?”

The candidates, too, were quick to frame up their differences.

“Voters are not looking for a lifelong politician or a lawyer litigator,” Moody said shortly after Mills won the ranked-choice vote.

“We know that government is not a business that you hand down to a friendly nephew,” Mills told supporters at a unity rally the day after she had won the nomination. “It’s not something you pass off to your friends. Government is a public trust, a sacred trust that the people must have every confidence in.”

That “outsider-versus-insider” theme will likely be prominent during the campaign from both candidates.


Moody, who will have been a member of the Republican Party for just over a year in November, ran for governor in 2010 as an independent and came in fourth in a five-way race that was won by LePage.

Shawn Moody won the Republican nomination without having to go through a ranked-choice tabulation. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Since then, he’s lifted his public profile as a businessman by expanding his chain of auto-body shops north from its headquarters in Gorham to Lewiston and Augusta, and as a political figure by serving as LePage’s appointee on both the University of Maine System board of trustees and the Maine Community College System board.

While Moody will try to fashion himself as a true outsider, his critics will fairly point out that in many ways Moody has been running unofficially for governor for eight years. “He’s been gathering some connections, but he’s never been elected to anything,” Melcher said.

Mainers also will have the chance to elect a woman to the governor’s office for the first time in the candidacy of Mills and Hayes, who now serves as state treasurer. That prospect could play well with some voters, especially on the left, Melcher said.

The candidates’ individual styles also are sure to be a factor, and voters will pay attention to how they present themselves and deliver their message.

While Moody has vowed to stay on LePage’s course of cutting taxes, reforming welfare and boosting business, his personal demeanor is different.

“I don’t think Shawn Moody’s style is going to be as confrontational and produce all the controversial quotes the way governor’s has, but he has pretty much said, ‘I am going to carry on the policies LePage had,’ ” Melcher said.

Mills, Melcher said, also has a straight-talking style and is known to rub some the wrong way at times.

“She’s quite blunt,” Melcher said, “and somebody who is not afraid to ruffle some feathers to get things done.”

That both Mills and Moody are natives of Maine means they can’t be painted as being from away, a dynamic seen in other Maine campaigns when one candidate had moved to the state from someplace else. But there could be other geographical advantages or challenges for the candidates given that Moody is from southern Maine and Mills, a Farmington resident, is from a more rural and western part of the state.

How the candidates perform in debates – and how many they participate in – could also become a big factor. Mills likely has the edge on policy knowledge thanks to her decades of experience as attorney general, as a state lawmaker and in state politics. But Moody’s experience running a successful business, combined with his folksy style and demeanor, will likely play well with some voters.

Alan Caron and Terry Hayes are independent candidates for governor.

Meanwhile, the independents – Caron, who is from Freeport, and Hayes, who is from Buckfield – will also be factors, offering choices to unenrolled or nonparty voters, the largest voting block in Maine. Independents are often viewed as more likely to siphon votes from Democrats than from Republicans in Maine, although Caron’s experience in the business sector and Hayes’ track record as state treasurer could shift those dynamics.

“Maine just has an awful lot of unenrolled voters that they can draw from and Mainers are ticket splitters, so we just don’t know how that will all poll out,” Melcher said. “So I do think the independents could put up a good run.”

Maine Political Report


]]> 0 Paul LePage is term-limited but will be a large presence in the Nov. 6 election. Governor candidate Shawn Moody will tout his relationship with the fellow Republican; Democrat Janet Mills will highlight how she's been a thorn in his side. Staff file photo by John EwingSun, 24 Jun 2018 20:01:29 +0000
Browntail moths spread, make their presence felt in Greater Portland Sun, 24 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 The invasive browntail moth, which has hunkered down in the midcoast for years, is expanding into Portland and its northern and western suburbs, bringing thousands of new, unsuspecting Mainers into contact with the caterpillars’ toxic hairs.

In Yarmouth, town employees have posted signs and roped off areas infested with browntail moth caterpillars to protect residents from exposure to the hairs that cause a blistery, itchy rash similar to poison ivy. Browntail moths have been found in nearly every Yarmouth neighborhood and have left some oak trees nearly bare of leaves. Bruce Maasbyll said he feels trapped in his Yarmouth home after repeatedly getting itchy rashes and watching caterpillars nearly strip his 60-foot oak trees of leaves.

“They munched them bare from top to bottom in a couple weeks,” he said. “One night I had gone out on my deck to have a beer and relax. The next morning I woke up with a really hot, burning rash all over my neck, chest and back.”

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry last week warned people to use extreme caution when removing cocoons from trees to avoid exposing themselves to the toxic hairs in the cocoons.

Browntail moths are found at varying population densities over more than 6,500 square miles in Maine and in recent years have been most highly concentrated in Brunswick, Bath and Topsham. But the high-risk exposure area has expanded as far west as Turner, south to Falmouth and east to Jefferson, according to state forestry officials.

“Browntail moth is not new in those areas, but it is intensifying,” said Allison Kanoti, a forest entomologist with the Maine Forest Service.

Small numbers of webs also have been found in Portland and surrounding suburbs that in past summers were considered free of the pest.

Patches of webs have been spotted in Gorham and Standish, areas that previously had a lower risk of exposure to browntail moths.

Browntail moth caterpillars have microscopic hairs that break off the caterpillars and circulate in the air. The dried skin that the caterpillars release when molting also contains the hairs. Skin contact with the hairs can cause a blistery, oozy rash. Some people also experience respiratory distress after inhaling the hairs into their lungs.

The hairs are most abundant from May through July when the caterpillars – which have two telltale red dots on their back ends – are in a feeding frenzy before they change into moths in August.

Now in its end-stage caterpillar form, the pests are munching on tender leaves of apple, oak and other trees.

The itchy rash caused by browntail moth hairs has brought hundreds of people to local pharmacies in Portland and Brunswick for lotions and sprays made specifically to treat browntail moth exposure.

At Coastal Pharmacy and Wellness in Portland, more than 450 prescriptions for the treatment have been filled since May, including 96 in one day alone.

Many of those prescriptions are for residents of Falmouth, Cumberland Foreside, Yarmouth and Freeport, said Kim Crabb, marketing director for Coastal Pharmacy and Wellness.

Signs at the Yarmouth High School tennis courts warn of browntail moths. The town doesn’t spray pesticides on public property but uses acephate insecticide on trees near the North Road playground, library and high school. Staff photo by Derek Davis

“We have been inundated,” she said. “People will come walking in the door lifting up their shirts and itching. People standing in line commiserate with each other. People are very frustrated and obviously very uncomfortable.”

Karyn MacNeill, director of Yarmouth Community Services, said browntail moths are not new to Yarmouth, but this year is different.

“For lack of a better term, it’s exploded in Yarmouth,” she said. “This year we’ve seen it scattered through almost every neighborhood in town.”

Town employees have had to rope off areas where people congregate – including around the high school tennis courts – to protect residents from exposure to the moths. The town does not spray pesticides or insecticides on public property, but did inject acephate insecticide into the root crowns of trees near the North Road playground, library and high school.

MacNeill said the town also stepped up its educational campaign by hosting a meeting for residents, posting information and resources on the town website, and hanging signs about browntail moths in areas that have been treated or roped off.

A browntail moth’s nest, pictured in Bowdoinham, is filled with larva. The caterpillars recently were concentrated in Brunswick, Bath and Topsham. Now high-risk exposure areas have expanded as far west as Turner, south to Falmouth and east to Jefferson. One Portland pharmacy has filled more than 450 prescriptions for treatment since May. Staff file photo by John Ewing

Maasbyll, the Yarmouth resident, said he would like to see the town do even more to address the issue. With the moths spread throughout town and the hairs blowing in the air, a few signs aren’t enough, he said.

“You can’t address this just by saying every man for themselves,” he said. “This is a public health problem. It’s a quality of life problem. It’s everybody’s problem.”

Browntail moth infestations can be difficult to deal with because of restrictions on using pesticides in certain coastal areas.

Forestry officials recommend people check their oak and apple trees for moth webs in the fall. They should clip out any webs they can reach, then burn them or submerge them in water. If the webs are too high to reach, a licensed pesticide applicator can treat them in the spring.

People who live in areas affected by the moths should take extra precautions to protect themselves, especially during dry weather when the microscopic hairs are more likely to be circulating. People can wear long pants and sleeves when they mow their laws – or mow when the grass is wet – and avoid sitting under apple and oak trees that show damage from the moths.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has more information about the moths on its website, along with a form where people can report the presence of browntail moths.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

Twitter: grahamgillian

]]> 0 browntail moth's nest, pictured in Bowdoinham, is filled with larva. The caterpillars recently were concentrated in Brunswick, Bath and Topsham. Now high-risk exposure areas have expanded as far west as Turner, south to Falmouth and east to Jefferson. One Portland pharmacy has filled more than 450 prescriptions for treatment since May. Staff file photo by John EwingSun, 24 Jun 2018 17:45:28 +0000
Emerging energy model in New England shies away from cooperation Sun, 24 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 Today’s battles over big energy projects in New England obscure the region’s past history of successfully bringing key visions to reality. But they also call into question whether the wholesale electricity market that has evolved over the past two decades can survive.

In the 1970s, when utilities were in charge of power planning, cooperative investments among private companies put nuclear reactors in every state but Rhode Island.

In the late 1990s, global energy companies were able to route two natural gas pipelines through Maine to bring new supplies of Canadian gas into the region.

In the mid-2000s, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, became the first market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Maine and eight other Northeast states participate in an auction that caps and cuts carbon dioxide from power plants, and provides millions of dollars of investments in energy efficiency.

In each era, these ventures were models of cross-border cooperation. Even today, they’re helping to keep lights on, homes warm and businesses running.

But today’s effort to build a new transmission line from Canada is different.

New England Clean Energy Connect would bring hydroelectric power from Canada through Maine to Massachusetts. It, too, is being proposed as a regional solution.

But NECEC isn’t part of any planning process run by ISO-New England, the electric grid operator. It’s happening outside the 20-year-old wholesale competitive electricity market.

It’s not designed to carry the lowest-cost power. Although price negotiations are confidential, the power from NECEC is expected to be at least double today’s 3-4 cents per kilowatt-hour average in the region. Those prices reflect the low cost of natural gas. And while the power line would be built by Central Maine Power and its Spanish-owned parent company, Avangrid, utilities didn’t drive the decision. The transmission line is a policy initiative in Massachusetts, the region’s largest energy user.

It’s true that new Canadian power can help replace older coal, oil and nuclear plants that have shut down or plan to retire, but NECEC is the product of a political mandate: Diversify the commonwealth’s energy supply with new sources of clean, renewable energy, and reduce carbon emissions associated with climate change.

The state’s 2016 law, championed by Gov. Charlie Baker, requires Massachusetts utilities to sign long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power and another 1,200 megawatts of hydropower or other renewable resources, such as land-based wind or solar.

That process took a big step forward last month, when the state chose the winners of a competition to build a massive offshore wind farm, called Vineyard Wind. One of the partners is Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary which is majority-owned by the Spanish electric utility Iberdrola SA.

Policy preferences for offshore wind and Canadian hydro raise a question that foreshadows how Maine and the region may get power for homes and businesses in the 2020s, and what they will pay to do it: If these projects are built, how will they affect existing power plants in the region and the existing wholesale electricity market?

“I think there’s a fundamental conflict between large state solicitations for energy capacity, and the goal of using competitive markets to meet consumer needs,” said Paul Hibbard, a principal at Analysis Group, a global consulting firm with offices in Boston.

Hibbard said there’s growing evidence that when politicians pass laws mandating big slugs of renewable energy, it erodes competition in wholesale electric markets. Combined with today’s low natural gas prices, policies that promote “out-of-market” generation threaten the survival of existing power plants, he said.

That’s an argument being used by power plant owners in Maine, which are opposing the NECEC project before the Maine Public Utilities Commission. They argue, among other things, that these projects are being subsidized by electric customers in southern New England and will threaten their ability to compete, or even survive.

They also question whether the NECEC project will lead to real carbon reductions. That’s because some experts have speculated that fossil-fuel power plants in New York state and Canada would be needed to backfill the hydro generation that would be sold to Massachusetts.

With a global imperative to reduce carbon emissions, it’s natural that policymakers will look at the electricity sector. But Tanya Bodell, executive director of the energy consulting firm Energyzt, points out that cars and trucks are the leading sources of carbon emissions. An expert witness for Maine power plant owners in the PUC case, Bodell agrees that focusing on the electricity sector to cut carbon puts the wholesale market at risk.

Writing in a recent issue of the trade publication Electric Light & Power, Bodell concluded:

“The market was designed to implement the lowest-cost solution, and has done so for twenty years. However, policy initiatives now are looking to achieve other objectives including diversification, decarbonization and integration of renewables. The onslaught is unrelenting. If competitive electricity markets do not evolve to value these other attributes, they will be destroyed.”

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or

Twitter: TuxTurkel

]]> 0, 23 Jun 2018 22:52:18 +0000
Transmission lines over Kennebec Gorge? That may be a choke point for renewable energy advocates Sun, 24 Jun 2018 08:00:00 +0000 WEST FORKS PLANTATION — Only a sharp eye would notice the small strips of orange and blue survey tape, fluttering from tree branches along this remote stretch of the Kennebec River.

They mean nothing to the thousands of tourists who each year bob through the Kennebec Gorge on whitewater rafts. For three hours, they are immersed in a 10-mile ride through roaring rapids and past steep, forested walls that reach for open sky, unbroken by buildings, bridges or signs of civilization.

But for Pete Dostie, that survey tape is a bad sign. It marks the spot where a 150-foot-wide corridor will be etched into commercial forestland, running 50 miles to the Maine-Quebec border. Here at the lower Kennebec Gorge, high-voltage transmission lines would be strung 200 feet above the river, topped by 18 safety-marker balls on shield wires. This is where hydroelectricity generated in Canada would traverse the Kennebec, surging 145 miles to Lewiston and, finally, Massachusetts.

For Dostie, a former river guide who has navigated the gorge for 40 years, overhead wires would disrupt a cherished backcountry experience that’s becoming increasingly hard to find.

Pete Dostie rows on the Kennebec River on June 13 within an area that Avangrid, the parent company of Central Maine Power Co., has identified for its high-voltage transmission line. Dostie, a former river guide who has rafted through the Kennebec Gorge for four decades, opposes the project. “This is one of the last pure river gorges in the Northeast,” he says. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

“This is one of the last pure river gorges in the Northeast,” he said, as he pulled his raft onto the riverbank in mid-June. “I don’t want to see wires with giant beach balls on them.”

A typical NIMBY statement, maybe. Preservation versus progress. But what’s happening here in the Kennebec Gorge has regional implications, and is being watched 250 miles away, in Boston.

Crossing the Kennebec is essential for the New England Clean Energy Connect project. Being developed by Avangrid, the parent company of Central Maine Power, NECEC, as it’s known, is the region’s biggest, multistate energy proposal currently in play. There’s no immediate benefit to Maine ratepayers. But with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, NECEC could run more than 1 million Massachusetts homes.

But just as granite cliffs squeeze the river here, the Kennebec Gorge may become a choke point for NECEC. That possibility is making NECEC a test case around this question: Can any large-scale, multistate energy project get built anymore in New England?

The answer matters, because advocates say that without at least some big clean-energy projects, the region will be hard-pressed to lower fossil fuel-based carbon emissions enough to help blunt the impacts of climate change.


“These days,” said Paul Hibbard, a principal at Analysis Group, a global consulting firm with offices in Boston, “it seems to be getting more difficult to (build big projects), by orders of magnitude.”

Hibbard is a former chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. He has watched ventures aimed at beefing up New England’s energy infrastructure be derailed by narrow objections. Exhibit A is the inability to build new natural gas pipelines in New England.

In 2014, the region’s governors, including Maine Gov. Paul LePage, put the weight of their offices behind a plan to expand pipeline capacity and fuel the region’s power plants with cheap gas from Pennsylvania. But opposition from residents and environmental groups, as well as court challenges, have killed or stalled all major pipeline proposals.

Now, after watching what happened earlier this year in New Hampshire, Hibbard and other experts wonder if cross-border electric transmission lines will suffer a similar fate.

A 2016 law in Massachusetts has set in motion an unprecedented process in the region to seek long-term contracts for massive slugs of renewable energy. One solution is to get more hydroelectricity from Canada.

Massachusetts utilities and energy officials thought they had found the easiest path, through New Hampshire. But their top pick – a $1.6 billion high-voltage line called Northern Pass – needed to traverse another iconic choke point, the White Mountain National Forest.

Last spring, after seven years of route changes and concessions to bury lines along additional sections of the 192-mile corridor, an obscure siting board in New Hampshire rejected a key permit for Northern Pass. Caught off guard, Massachusetts pivoted to its second choice, NECEC through Maine. At $950 million, it’s also cheaper than Northern Pass. That could translate into lower electric bills for Bay State customers.

NECEC also is less costly than a third option, a $1.2 billion transmission line called TDI New England. TDI would have brought Canadian hydro 98 miles under Lake Champlain in Vermont and then 56 miles underground along existing rights-of-way. That approach blunted opposition from most residents and environmental groups, although it was not selected by Massachusetts.

But it may turn out that NECEC is only cheaper on paper. Avangrid-CMP insists it’s too costly to spend an additional $37 million to tunnel under the river at the Kennebec Gorge, or string a longer route to cross upstream at Harris Station, Maine’s largest hydroelectric dam.

What does that decision mean, in light of the failures in New Hampshire and Vermont?

Are there lessons to be learned from Northern Pass and TDI?

Can Avangrid-CMP use that knowledge to actually get NECEC built?

The answers can’t be known yet, but these are questions that energy industry observers in New England are pondering.

“These multistate, two-country projects are so complicated to pull off,” said Bruce Mohl, editor of CommonWealth magazine in Boston and a frequent writer about the area’s economic and energy issues. “Everyone thought Northern Pass was going to pull it out. Think of how much time and money was invested in that, and in the end, it came up short.”


Mohl said Massachusetts officials were stunned that a small siting agency in New Hampshire had the power to kill Northern Pass. Now, officials are trying to get up to speed on the details of the Maine proposal, as well as opposition to it.

“It’s slowly dawning on folks that Massachusetts knew almost nothing about the CMP project,” he said, “and it’s not a given that it’s going to happen.”

John Carroll, a spokesman for Avangrid-CMP, offered an explanation for why Avangrid-CMP is pushing hard to cross the gorge with overhead lines.

Groups of rafters and guides prepare to set out on the Kennebec River at Harris Station on June 13. Avangrid says the Kennebec Gorge is the optimal site for the hydropower project because the route sidesteps conservation lands and big water bodies such as Flagstaff Lake. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

The Massachusetts bid process is for power at a fixed price. That’s why the added cost of laying wires under Lake Champlain made TDI’s bid financially uncompetitive, Carroll asserted.

When Northern Pass foundered, Avangrid was able to offer a winning price that was based on its preferred overland route and by crossing the Kennebec Gorge overhead. Now that contracts are signed, spending an extra $37 million to tunnel under the river – 4 percent of the total cost – would make NECEC less profitable.

But finances aside, Carroll also stressed that the Kennebec Gorge is the optimal site. The route purposely sidesteps conservation lands and big water bodies, such as Flagstaff Lake.

In addition, Carroll said, CMP’s corridor is on land it already owns. The crossing is in the lower gorge, miles past the prime white water near Harris Dam.

“We think we made the right choice from the beginning,” he said.


There’s an irony about debating the wild nature of the upper Kennebec River. If the river wasn’t held back, first for log drives and later for hydropower, summer whitewater rafting wouldn’t exist.

That reality is clear at 10 a.m. on a recent weekday at Harris Station, when a warning siren blares and a loudspeaker repeats: “Water levels downstream are increasing. Exit water immediately.”

River guide Doug Alford understands that New England shares a common electric grid, but he also appreciates the ability to drift for three hours and have a full wilderness experience. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Within minutes, the river flow increases, as dam operators turn up the spigot on Indian Pond. In a nearby staging area, hundreds of day trippers and their guides are preparing to haul brightly colored rafts down a cascade of steps to the riverbank below the dam, where they’ll put in. Clad in life jackets and helmets, their thoughts are with the swirling water, not regional energy policy. Most are unaware of the power line proposal, or know little about it.

Guides who run the gorge every day, though, have mixed views.

Dana DiBiase is adamant. Overhead power lines would detract from the experience of rafting a remote river, in his view. Let Massachusetts generate its own power, he suggests.

“Would you want to put power lines in your playground?” he asks. “I think that’s the answer.”

Doug Alford, who said he’s originally from Massachusetts, can see it both ways. He understands that New England shares a common electric grid. But to be able to drift for three hours and have a full wilderness experience, that’s worth saving.

He also wonders how much more it would cost the average Massachusetts electric customer to run the line under the river, or, at least, across Harris Dam.

“That would be the best option,” Alford said. “Another set of wires here wouldn’t make any difference.”


These opinions, reflexive and more thoughtful, may mirror a broader mindset in a society today that is more fractured, and less able to reach consensus. That, in part, may be why it’s harder to build large projects, according to Elizabeth Swain, director of strategic communications at Power Engineers, a national consulting firm.

“I think the public has an increasingly diverse view of what defines a public good,” Swain said.

Swain is a former chairwoman of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission. She worked on public outreach when the gas pipeline from Quebec to Portland was built in the late 1990s and currently is consulting for Avangrid on NECEC.

Local battles over regional projects have become more “granular,” Swain said, reflecting on protracted conflicts over a new Maine Turnpike tollbooth in York, and relieving traffic congestion on Route 1 in Wiscasset.

“If you have a project where there’s a greater public good, but a local impact,” she said, “it’s going to be increasingly hard to move forward.”

To prepare its permit application for state environmental regulators, Avangrid-CMP has created several photo-simulations that depict what the line would look like.

Avangrid-CMP would leave a 550-foot forested buffer along the riverbank. Because the wire spans are long, the tower structures would be far from the bank. One depiction looking north from the Moxie Gore side of the river indicates that the top of one structure would be visible at a distance of 1,530 feet.

Rafters navigate rapids on the Kennebec River. The Avangrid-CMP plan has no immediate benefit for Maine ratepayers, but it could generate enough power to run a million homes in Massachusetts. Avangrid-CMP says it would cost $37 million more to tunnel under the river. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

To get a sense of how the lines might appear, Dostie steered his raft to a stretch north of where Cold Stream empties into the Kennebec. As he approached, a bald eagle watched from atop a dead pine. Dostie tied his boat to a tree branch and looked up, trying to imagine the wires, 200 feet above the water. As he stood on the riverbank, passing rafters saw him and began chanting: “No lines! No lines!”

Dostie was one of the first whitewater guides on the river in the late 1970s, selling his company in 2006. Today he runs the Hawks Nest Lodge, which overlooks the Kennebec and Route 201 in West Forks.

His opposition to power lines crossing the Kennebec Gorge illustrates how challenging it has become to find consensus on big energy projects.

In early June, Avangrid-CMP announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with a nonprofit organization made up of some area rafting companies and recreation interests. Broadly, Avangrid would invest $22 million to support trail development, conservation land and tourism-based improvements in the area.

That and other concessions are meant as compensation for the negative impacts of overhead lines in the gorge.

This deal took two years to negotiate, but it was immediately panned by the Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Maine chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. And for his part, Dostie charges that the agreement favors the financial interests of some of the co-signers. He said he has begun organizing opposition in West Forks, which has a year-round population of 60.

“West Forks was completely locked out of this thing,” Dostie said, “even though everything is happening in West Forks.”

With the permitting review still in its early stages, no one can say what impact the agreement – or opposition to it – will have on the process. But the debate shows that local conflict over a single element, or a specific place, can be pivotal to the failure or success of a regional energy project.

If there’s any doubt that the Kennebec Gorge has achieved that status, a follow-up letter sent to CMP last month by James Beyer, a licensing and compliance manager at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, clarifies its importance.

In the letter, Beyer noted that the line would be the only overhead utility crossing between Harris Dam and The Forks township, and the only visual impact for 10 miles. The letter said both the DEP and Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission need more information about alternatives to the overhead crossing.

“From the department’s perspective at this point in time,” the letter said, “both the directional drilling alternative and the Brookfield alternative (Harris Dam) appear to have less impact on existing uses and scenic character than the proposed overhead crossing.”

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

Twitter: TuxTurkel

]]> 0 guide Dana DiBiase, left, heads down the Kennebec River near West Forks Plantation with rafters on June 13. DiBiase is a critic of a proposed Central Maine Power transmission line that would erect wires 200 feet above the river, with 18 mounted safety-marker balls.Sun, 24 Jun 2018 17:42:35 +0000
Protesters, Democrats call for immigrant families to be reunited Sun, 24 Jun 2018 03:13:07 +0000 MCALLEN, Texas — Demonstrators led rallies and protests Saturday to decry the separation of immigrant parents from their children by U.S. border authorities, while Democratic lawmakers said they aren’t convinced the Trump administration has any real plan to reunite them.

Hundreds of people rallied near a Homestead, Florida, facility where immigrant children are being held. Demonstrators marched in San Diego carrying signs reading “Free the Kids” and “Keep Families Together” and in other California cities.

Outside a Border Patrol processing facility in McAllen, Texas, protesters carrying American flags temporarily blocked a bus carrying immigrants and shouted “Shame! Shame!” at border agents.

“Something has to be done,” said Gabriel Rosales, the League of United Latin American Citizens’ national vice president for the southwest. “This is not something that’s OK in America today. And ours is to show those kids that they have people here in the United States that care.”

The demonstrations came days after the Trump administration reversed course in the face of public and political outrage and had authorities stop separating immigrant families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

In recent weeks, more than 2,300 children were taken from their families under a “zero-tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face prosecution. While the family separations were ended, confusion has ensued, with parents left searching for their children.

The administration says it will now seek to detain immigrant families during their immigration proceedings, which has also stoked an outcry.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton issued a statement that criticized protests in Portland, Oregon, against immigration enforcement activities that closed federal immigration offices there this week, but did not address the other demonstrations occurring around the country Saturday.

Evelyn Stauffer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said her agency is trying to help reunite families or place unaccompanied immigrant children with an appropriate sponsor.

In Florida, Argentine immigrant Maria Bilbao said she joined the protest because she came to the country 17 years ago with her then-9-year-old son and understands the fear of being separated from a child.

“What is happening in this country is disgusting,” said Bilbao, who worked as a cleaning woman before becoming a legal resident and now works for an immigrant rights group. “They should be letting people go to the outside so they can work and contribute to this country.”

More protests are planned for next weekend in states from Connecticut to California.

A group of 25 Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, who toured the border processing facility in McAllen, Texas, said they hadn’t seen a clear federal system for reuniting those who were split up. Everyone – even infants – is assigned “A” or alien numbers, only to be given different identification numbers by other federal agencies.

They described seeing children sleeping behind bars, on concrete floors and under emergency “mylar” heat-resistant blankets.

“There are still thousands of children who are out there right now untethered to their parents and no coherent system to fix that,” Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat from Connecticut, told reporters after the tour.

Immigration lawyers are also trying to help facilitate reunions. At criminal court hearings in McAllen, one lawyer identified parents separated from their children, and immigration attorney Jodi Goodwin said she followed up with them at a detention facility in Port Isabel, Texas, to collect information about their cases and their children.

Goodwin said she has been inundated with requests from the parents, and the list is still growing.

“Once you end up talking with one parent they tell you that there are 70 other parents in their dorm that are also separated and can I help them,” she said, adding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had asked her to share the information so they could assist. “We haven’t tapped out on the number of adults that have been separated.”

Tens of thousands of immigrants traveling with their families have been caught on the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years, many fleeing gang violence in Central America. About 9,000 such family units have been caught in each of the last three months, according to U.S. border authorities.

The Trump administration announced plans in April to prosecute all immigrants caught along the southwest border with illegally entering the country. Parents were jailed and children were taken to government-contracted shelters.

The administration says it will continue with prosecutions and seek to detain families together during their immigration proceedings. Immigration officials have said they could seek up to 15,000 beds in family detention facilities, and the Pentagon is drawing up plans to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied immigrant children on military bases.

The administration also is seeking changes to a decades-old settlement governing the detention of immigrant children to try to be able to detain children with their parents in family detention centers for longer periods of time.

AP photographers David J. Phillip in McAllen, Texas and Brynn Anderson in Homestead, Florida, and writers Terry Spencer, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, California and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

]]> 0 participate in an organized march Saturday, June 23, 2018, near the Gateway International Bridge in downtown Brownsville, Texas. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)Sat, 23 Jun 2018 23:16:23 +0000
Schooners find fair winds off Portland: Photos Sun, 24 Jun 2018 02:27:00 +0000 Seven traditional schooners are plying Portland Harbor this weekend in the second annual Portland SchoonerFest and Regatta.

Hometown favorites Wendameen and Bagheera, built in 1912 and 1924, respectively, face challenges from some of the most famous schooners in the country, including the Adventure out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Harvey Gamage of Portland and Bailey Island’s Alert.

This is the first year the Marine Maritime Museum’s Mary E is racing after its recent restoration in Bath.

Wendameen and Bagheera are known for their speed and were expected to be at the front all weekend. The event began Friday; most races end Sunday.

]]> 0, ME - JUNE 23: A lady walks with an umbrella as schooners pass by Portland Breakwater Light for the Portland Schoonerfest & Regatta Saturday, June 23, 2018. (Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Sat, 23 Jun 2018 22:31:58 +0000
Door-to-door scam seeks customers for Electricity Maine, affidavit says Sun, 24 Jun 2018 00:19:55 +0000 People posing as Central Maine Power Co. employees have been operating a door-to-door scam to sign up new customers for Electricity Maine, according to an affidavit filed recently in federal court.

The affidavit was added to a 2016 lawsuit filed by energy consumers against Electricity Maine, a power supplier. CMP is a power distribution company.

The plaintiffs claim Electricity Maine has overcharged customers, first through a fraudulent bait-and-switch scheme that eventually charged higher rates, and more recently through the alleged door-to-door scam, according to an amended court complaint.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, the affidavit about the door-to-door scam contains detailed allegations by several residents of Bath and Norway, and by police who received complaints in Norway, Paris and wider Oxford County.

The alleged scam incidents in Bath occurred last November and December, while the incidents in Oxford County occurred in January and April of this year, according to the May 31 sworn affidavit of David Loranger, a private investigator.

Residents told Loranger they were visited by men wearing CMP clothing who claimed to be auditors for or otherwise employees of CMP. The men told the residents they were being overcharged – sometimes asking to see their CMP bills – then tried to get them to sign up with Electricity Maine for a promised lower rate, Loranger testified.

Some agreed to switch. Others didn’t. One Bath woman said she knew Electricity Maine wasn’t associated with CMP because she had previously signed up with Electricity Maine.

“She concluded that the man in her home claiming to be an auditor for CMP was actually working for Electricity Maine,” Loranger testified. “She told me she was angry and immediately told the purported auditor to leave her home, which he did.”

Electricity Maine was founded in 2011 by Emile Clavet of Harpswell and Kevin Dean of Windham, longtime Lewiston-Auburn business associates who are now battling each other in court.

The 2016 lawsuit by consumers is filed against Clavet and Dean, Provider Power LLC, and Spark Holdco LLC, a Delaware-registered company that purchased Electricity Maine in May 2016.

Clavet and Dean retain controlling interests in Electricity Maine and Houston-based Spark owns electricity supply companies in several other states, according to the lawsuit.

The owners couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday. A Spark representative has said previously that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Utility companies warn against providing billing information to anyone going door-to-door. They recommend calling to confirm the identity of employees or reporting suspected scammers to police.

A spokeswoman for CMP could not be reached immediately for comment Saturday night.

This story has been corrected to note the nature of CMP’s business.

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

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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