Category Archives: Law and Order

The U.S. was formed around ideals, not a race or religion | Bangor Daily News

By George Mitchell

The statements by President Donald Trump regarding the events in Charlottesville were unwise and unfortunate, and represented a failure of leadership.

Most of the world’s nations were formed around homogeneous groups of people, in race or religion. The United States was formed around ideals. Set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they’re not easy to summarize. But surely they include:

The sovereignty of the people; the primacy of individual liberty; an independent judicial system under the rule of law; opportunity for every member of society; and equal rights and equal justice for all.

It is our commitment to these ideals that make us Americans, not our race, our religion, or our heritage.

When the United States was established, it had a small population clinging to the Atlantic coast. For most of our history we have received people from around the world to fill a vast continent where we created a new and free system of governance. Obviously we cannot now return to the days of open immigration. But we should and must respect all of our people, whatever their race, their religion, their background.

The angry, violent and supremacist views of the neo-Nazis and white supremacists must be categorically and unequivocally rejected by all Americans.

Read the rest of this commentary.

Advertisements

LePage: Removing Confederate statues is like taking down 9/11 memorial | The Hill

[Note: LePage has been nearly as big an embarrassment as Trump. This proves it … again.]

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Thursday defended President Trump’s claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, comparing Confederate memorials to those put up to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

In an interview on WGAN radio in Portland, LePage accused counterdemonstrators of “trying to erase history” by calling for the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

“I think what they are standing for is equally as bad. They are trying to erase history,” said LePage, a Republican and staunch Trump ally who has garnered a reputation for making controversial and inflammatory statements. “How can future generations learn if we’re going to erase history? That’s disgusting.

“Listen, whether we like it or not, this is what our history is,” he added. “And to me, it’s just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that.”

Read the rest of this story.

Our View: Trump’s stance on violent extremists is a disgrace | Portland Press Herald

If this feels different, it’s because it is.

Never in modern American history has a president so elevated the forces of hate, or so bastardized and mangled the country’s past. Never has a president looked at a display as malevolent and disgusting as the torch-fueled march Friday night in Charlottesville and refused to condemn it, saying “there are two sides to a story.”

In a week in which the leader of the free world gave comfort to people shouting “Jews won’t replace us,” we have to ask, what kind of country are we?

At a news conference Tuesday, one day after reading off a teleprompter a canned and insincere refutation of white nationalism, President Trump showed us what he really thinks.

Speaking extemporaneously, Trump more strongly repeated his initial claim that blame for the violence in Charlottesville was “on both sides,” as if who is in the right – the Nazis calling for a racially pure country, or those who oppose them in the name of true American values – is up for discussion.

Trump didn’t come out and say that white nationalists have a friend in the White House, but he didn’t have to. After decades in which any association with Nazis was a ticket out of public life, having the president mimic their talking points was more than they could have ever hoped for.

Read the rest of this editorial.

Portland rally in support of Charlottesville victims: ‘This affects everybody’ | Portland Press Herald

By Megan Doyle
Staff Writer

About 50 people gathered spontaneously Saturday in Portland to support the people killed and injured while peacefully protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Marie Follayttar Smith, one of the leaders of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, created a Facebook event for the rally Saturday evening, and within an hour, a small crowd began to gather on the Eastern Promenade. Jennifer Jones of Falmouth, another one of the organizers, said they felt the need to take action after seeing the news of the day’s violence.

“I got home and didn’t want to just sit there,” Jones said. “If we’re silent, we’re allowing this.”

The group slowly grew as the sun set. Young people led chants of “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” Two men held a large canvas painted with the words “Say No To Racism,” and passing cars honked. The participants shared a moment of silence and read a poem. They talked about the need to create a broad network for protests like this one.

“This affects everybody,” said Dylan Smith-Monahan, a 25-year-old from Portland who came to the rally with members of the International Socialist Organization. “We need a unified response to what’s happening.”

Read the rest of this story.

Maine press must demand answers from LePage | Bangor Daily News

By Lance Dutson

It used to be a given that politicians sought to be on the right side of the press. As the old adage went, “you shouldn’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

But in Maine, in the era of Paul LePage, that ink has become virtually worthless.

Enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, a free and robust press is a pillar of our democracy. As much as the three branches of government hold the power to check and balance each other, a free press serves as the Fourth Estate, a watchdog over all of them.

At least this is how it’s supposed to be.

In our state, the system has broken down. Our press no longer functions as an effective check on power, and more and more serves as a vessel for the dissemination of false information.

The crux of this breakdown is the governor’s declared policy that he will not answer questions from reporters. In a free society, this is unconscionable. But what’s worse is the fact that the Maine press generally accepts it.

LePage has set up a network of friendly platforms to broadcast his message to the people of Maine, including talk radio and right-wing websites. By shutting down direct objective press access, he’s eliminated the need to justify any of his statements, and can instead lapse into hyperbole and outright falsehoods with no fear of being held accountable.

Read the rest of this commentary.

Collins, King offer alternative to executive-level lunacy | Bangor Daily News blog

By Lance Dutson

The contrast couldn’t be more striking.

On one hand, there is the imagery of Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s short time communications director, hair slicked back, reaching into a female reporter’s personal space over and over as he desperately attempted to bully a series of lies into reality.

On the other, there is Maine’s senior senator, Susan Collins, unassumingly returning home to the Bangor airport Friday morning where a small crowd of Mainers erupted into spontaneous applause, earnestly thankful for the battle she had just waged on their behalf.

This contrast — between pettiness and earnestness, between the honorable and the base — has been a cornerstone of Maine’s sense of political self for decades.

Our federal government just had one of its most embarrassing weeks ever. Republican leadership tried and failed to ram a deeply flawed and unvetted healthcare overhaul bill through the U.S. Senate in the dead of night. Trump abruptly proclaimed a ban on transgendered people serving in the military through his Twitter account. The White House communications director went on an on-the-record, profanity-laced tirade to a reporter, calling Trump’s chief of staff a “f*** paranoid schizophrenic” and claiming Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was fellating himself. Threats were made via Twitter about staff members having the FBI investigate other staff members. And the president fired his own chief of staff, Reince Priebus, leaving Priebus alone in a black Suburban on the tarmac next to Air Force One, as the rest of the motorcade pulled away.

Read the rest of this commentary.

Our View: Collins’ health bill vote prevented a calamity | Portland Press Herald

The U.S. Senate – which calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body” – came within a single senator’s vote on Friday of violently disrupting the health and well-being of millions of people just so some members could partially satisfy their half-baked campaign promises.

It was a very close call.

The nation is extraordinarily lucky that Maine sent two people to Washington, in Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, whose commitment to public service would not let them to take part in such a mean-spirited and reckless political gambit.

Credit is especially due to Collins, who stood up against her party’s leadership as one of only three Republican senators (along with Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona) to defeat what was not just a bad bill but also a horrendous legislative process.

King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, had been consistently on the right side of this issue, but he acknowledged that what Collins did Friday took special courage.

Read the rest of this editorial.

Pun for the road may keep drivers from being distracted | Portland Press Herald

BY STAFF WRITER

Unlike some states, Maine can take a witty approach to highway safety.

Danger lurks around every corner when you’re whizzing along behind the wheel at 70 mph. Road safety is no laughing matter.

Then from around the next bend in the road, it appears – 12 feet high and flashing in yellow LEDs. A state-sponsored dad joke.

“GET YOUR HEAD … OUT OF YOUR APPS”

Along Interstate 295, electronic roadside signs sponsored by the state Department of Transportation have been doling out gentle reminders, good advice and pun-filled witticisms, all while hewing to the usually drab responsibility of reinforcing road safety expectations.

Read the rest of this story by Matt Byrne.

Maine’s secretary of state says he will reject second request for voter registration data | Portland Press Herald

BY STAFF WRITER

AUGUSTA –– Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Monday that he is unlikely to release any state voter registration data to the federal voter fraud commission to which he was appointed by President Trump.

Dunlap said he will reject a second request for the data from the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who promised last week that the data would be held in confidence at the federal level.

But Dunlap said he is uncertain that the federal Freedom of Information Act would allow the data to be protected from disclosure once it is in the federal government’s hands. He said he wants the commission, to which he was appointed in May, to first set goals for what it hopes to achieve as it investigates Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud.

The secretary of state also said he wants the commission to figure out how it intends to protect voters’ privacy rights before he hands over any statewide voter data.

Read the rest of this story by Scott Thistle.

Trump travel ban expected to start tonight, will ‘hurt innocent people,’ Maine Arab leader says | Bangor Daily News

[Note: We are a nation of immigrants, so this ban is un-American. It will hurt the wrong people and there is absolutely no guarantee it will reduce the threat of terrorism. It will only cause more global mistrust of the United States.]

President Donald Trump’s travel ban from six mostly Muslim countries, after clearing a key hurdle in the U.S. Supreme Court, could take effect Thursday night, according to multiple reports.

An Arab community leader in Maine decried the president’s travel ban as a punishment for people who have done nothing wrong, and said the move disrespects America’s history as a nation built by immigrants and refugees.

Zoe Sahloul was born in Lebanon and came to Maine nearly two decades ago. She now serves as the executive director of the New England Arab American Organization, with offices in Westbrook and Portland.

“I believe in the goodness of people,” she said. “Unfortunately with these regulations, a lot of people are being hurt, a lot of people who are innocent and who have had nothing to do with terrorists. People are desperate to leave [war-torn countries], and they’re desperate to have any help they can get to save their kids and save their families.

“I’ve been in Maine for 20 years, and even with that, I’ve been so stressed out and so afraid,” Sahloul continued. “When we talk about immigrants, who is not a product of immigrants in the United States, whether you’re third or fourth generation?”

Trump’s travel ban will block travel to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — four of which are Arab nations, and all of which are predominantly Muslim — for at least 90 days. The president’s measure will also prevent refugees from any country from entering the U.S. for at least 120 days.

Read the rest of the story by Seth Koenig in the Bangor Daily News.

Airman comes home from tour of duty to new Bangor home | Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine — “Welcome home” took on a double meaning Friday for an Air Force command post controller assigned to the Maine Air National Guard Base in Bangor.

Not only did Kyle Eaton finally touch down at Bangor International Airport after his first overseas deployment, he also got his first look at the house he bought — sight unseen — during a six-month stint in an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia.

Eaton, a 2007 Hermon High School graduate who turned 22 last month, bought the tidy white house at 65 Parker St. through the city of Bangor’s recently established Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Though the program, which was funded through a $1,084,873 grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the city is able to buy foreclosed or vacant homes which it rehabilitates and sells to income-eligible first-time home buyers, according to Rosie Bradley, assistant director of community development for the city of Bangor.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a new program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, requires that participants incorporate green energy standards to make the homes more efficient and therefore affordable, Bradley noted.

The city so far has resold four homes, has another on the market and is overhauling a sixth, she said.

Though he was on the other side of the world, Eaton was able to surmount the hurdles to homeownership with the help of his father, to whom he granted power of attorney so that the real estate closing could take place.

Click to read more of this story by Dawn Gagnon in the Bangor Daily News and to see photos and video.

Occupy Maine gets support from unions as demonstration nears one-week mark | Bangor Daily News

PORTLAND, Maine — Members of a group angry about corporate influence on government has found support from southern Maine labor unions as they close in on a week of camping out in downtown Portland.

The Occupy Maine settlement, a local offshoot of a nationwide network of demonstrations that began in mid-September with Occupy Wall Street, reaches its seventh day Friday, and members say their group is still growing. This weekend, Occupy Maine will celebrate what it’s calling Free Speech Weekend with music, yoga and art making.

Members of the Occupy movement have been calling themselves “the 99 percent,” referring to all those who are not among the 1 percent of the American population who control nearly half of wealth in the country. That 1 percent, occupiers argue, have an unfair amount of influence on federal governance.

“We’re getting bigger and bigger,” said Demi Colby, 23, of Gardiner, who took part in Occupy Wall Street and returned to her home state to help launch Occupy Maine on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Click to read the rest of Seth Koenig’s story in the Bangor Daily News.

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

Black bear killed in Portland | Portland Press Herald

Drug- and alcohol-related crimes dominate Aroostook County indictments | Bangor Daily News

Drug- and alcohol-related crimes dominate Aroostook County indictments | Bangor Daily News

 

Ashland police chief, second victim in moose accident remain hospitalized | Bangor Daily News

EAGLE LAKE, Maine — Two men who suffered serious injuries in a moose crash on Wednesday morning remain in a Bangor hospital, one in critical condition.

Cyr Martin, 46, one of the victims and also the chief of the Ashland Police Department, is in fair condition at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Melford Bouchard, 70, of Newburgh, is in critical condition at the hospital, a spokesperson said Friday afternoon.

Click to read more of the story by Jen Lynds in the Bangor Daily News.

Will write for food! … Or walk your dog!

Hey there! Hey there! I’m still trying to line up a freelance gig or two for the coming weeks. Please let me know if you are in need or know someone in need of a writer-editor-blogger-dog walker-house-sitter-dishwasher. Cheers!

9/11: When innocence was lost | The Washington Post via the Bangor Daily News

WASHINGTON — For Karen Hughes, counselor to the president of the United States, Sept. 10, 2001, was a day of celebration and relief. It was her wedding anniversary. She and husband Jerry dined at a favorite restaurant in the Watergate and reviewed the drama and chaos of the previous months.

There’d been the long presidential campaign, the disputed election, the move to Washington. They had to move a second time when the first house didn’t work out. Then a freak summer rainstorm had flooded their basement, soaking their possessions.

All that was finally behind them. And so she could say:

“We’ve survived the worst.”

And: “Things can only get better from here.”

That Monday – call it 9/10 – was the last day of a certain kind of American innocence.

Click for the rest of the piece by Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post reprinted in the Bangor Daily News.

For border towns, attacks changed a way of life | Bangor Daily News

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, changes at Maine’s border crossings were not subtle. More officers were added at ports of entry, inspectors became more vigilant and, in some cases, new ports were constructed.

Although less visible, the division of cross-border communities is one of the long-lasting impacts of the attacks and the heightened security and border restrictions that resulted.

Before 9/11, the border between Maine and Canada was more a line on a map than a barrier. Border agents from both countries often simply waved through the familiar faces they saw frequently crossing the international boundary. Residents of Aroostook County attended churches in New Brunswick. Canadians bought cheaper gas in The County. Socializing with friends and family on the other side of the border was routine.

Reports shortly after 19 hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon said some of the men had entered the U.S. through Canada. Although not true (the hijackers flew into the U.S. from Europe, Asia and the Middle East and had visas issued by the U.S. government), work to better secure the border soon was under way.

While millions of federal dollars have been spent on improving infrastructure — such as building new crossing facilities in Calais, Van Buren and Forest City — the change that has most affected Aroostook County residents is the requirement for a passport, passport card or NEXUS card, an alternative offered through U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to cross the border.

Click to read the rest of the story by Jen Lynds, Diana Bowley, and Sharon Kiley Mack in the Bangor Daily News, along with video.

 

Editorial: A Tale of Two Districts | Bangor Daily News

Lawmakers soon will be faced with radically different plans for redrawing the boundary between the state’s two congressional districts. One features straighter lines and a difference of only one person between the two districts — top priorities for the state’s Republicans. It does, however, move about 360,000 people from one district to another. The Democratic plan moves Vassalboro from the 1st District to the 2nd.

The choice for lawmakers should be easy — they should go with the simplest change that meets the requirements of the law and affects the fewest voters.

Recent history has shown this is unlikely to happen. Redistricting lines were imposed by the state supreme court in 2003 because lawmakers couldn’t agree on a plan. Maine doesn’t have to go down this road again.

Click to read the rest of the editorial by The Bangor Daily News.

Maine has highest state rate of casualties in Afghanistan | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine has highest state rate of casualties in Afghanistan | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.