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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

7/27/09

Monday July 27

THE HIGH TIDE MYSTERY

Charlotte Observer - Weather experts are contemplating a new mystery of the deep blue sea: why it's been deeper than usual at high tide all along the East Coast for the past several weeks.

Since June, tides have been running from 6 inches to 2 feet above what would normally be expected, even considering seasonal and lunar fluctuations. While local tidal changes are not uncommon, researchers for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aren't sure they have ever recorded an event like this one, which is showing up all the way from Maine to Florida. . .

"Right now we're trying to get a better understanding of what's the cause," said Mike Szabados, director of NOAA's tide and current program in Silver Spring, Md. Global warming isn't to blame, scientists say, as the rise was too sudden. Possibly, Szabados said, the explanation lies in something called the North Atlantic oscillation, a disturbance in the atmospheric pressure in the area of the North Atlantic Ocean between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High.

A change in the atmospheric pressure can change wind velocities and directions, which can affect ocean circulation, Szabados said. . .

The higher tides have also flooded the nests of shore birds and sea turtles close to the water line. The higher water brings an increased risk of rip tides. And if a tropical storm or hurricane strikes before the phenomenon subsides, damage near the shore could be magnified. . .

Szabados said that while the surge has diminished, it hasn't disappeared, and researchers don't know when it will.

THE MAINE STREAM

How the Gates affair would play out in Maine

One of the ways the state could save money is not wasting it on things like this. . . Sun Journal - A 54-year-old man was arrested after being charged with cultivating 70 marijuana plants.

Great photo of Portland's new fireboat and much better online than in today's print edition of the Press Herald.

Your editor wonders how come the stimulus package hasn't made it to Flying Point Road.

Morning Sentinel - [87] Maine members of the Agri-Mark Co-op benefit greatly from the production of Vermont-produced Cabot Cheese. Cabot and McCadam of New York are part of the co-op that is 1,350 farms strong in New England and upstate New York. If business goes well, the co-op cuts them an annual profit check. . . Co-op members pay annual dues, based on the size of their farms. . . Profit checks varying from a few dollars to as much as $7,000 -- if there are any -- go out in February. Dimento estimated that the average Maine farmer with 100 cows might get $3,000 to $4,000.
. . . Fletcher, the only Mainer on the Agri-Mark board, has owned his farm since 1980. His cows produce 13-14,000 pounds of milk a day.

A survey by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute finds that more than 40 percent of respondents indicated that they would increase their seafood consumption if they knew it was sustainably harvested, while almost 60 percent said knowing that the seafood was caught locally would increase the amount of seafood they purchased. More than half of those who took the survey said they would pay slightly more for these products, particularly if they knew it would support fishermen, coastal communities or the ocean environment. Respondents cited supporting the local economy as the biggest motivator for buying regionally harvested seafood. . . According to 96 percent of respondents, working waterfronts and small coastal communities are important to Maine's quality of life. About 90 percent believe that commercial fishing adds to the character of Maine's coastline, and that seafood from the Northeast is important in attracting people to this area.

Mainebiz - When Eric Bettencourt incorporated his recording business Shadow Shine Records in Portland last year, he spent six hours in meetings with a lawyer and paid $1,400 in legal fees. Given his modest budget, Bettencourt knew he needed to look for alternative answers to his questions about trademarks and copyrights. So when the Portland Music Foundation referred him to a new organization called Maine Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Bettencourt gave it a shot. The organization, founded last June by two recent graduates of the University of Maine School of Law, put Bettencourt in touch with a local attorney who offered his services pro bono. "I don't know what I'd do without [the organization]," Bettencourt says. "I don't have the budget to go back to another six-hour meeting to figure it all out."

Kennebec Journal - According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maine, both the Bangor and Portland offices have recorded a rising number of bankruptcy filings in recent years. Combined, the offices have recorded 1,916 bankruptcy filings through June this year. . . There were 1,436 such filings from January through June 2008. Last year, total bankruptcy filings were 3,032. That compares with 2,305 in 2007 and 1,328 in 2006.

Mainebiz - set of metal tongs looms in the foreground above a gray moon-like landscape displayed on the boat's tiny black-and-white monitor. In the background emerges a long, thin shadow, giving depth to a cylindrical shape. To the casual observer, it looks like just another old log, one of millions that litter the floors of Maine's lakes and rivers. But to Todd Morrissette, it's sunken treasure. . . Morrissette, 39, is standing in the pilothouse of Aqua-logger, the pontoon boat he specifically designed to salvage logs from the bottom of lakes and ponds. It's his office during the summer months, when he scours Moosehead Lake with his sonar looking for sunken logs, also called deadheads, which, for some, last saw the light of day 150 years ago during log drives on the lake.

Morning Sentinel - A simmering row among a small group of people at the Milbridge Days' Cod Fish Races on Saturday spilled over into the family-oriented fun and turned into a brawl involving 50 to 60 people. Two people were sent to the hospital -- including the Milbridge town manager -- several were summonsed, and one was arrested. At least 12 police units, including seven Maine State Police troopers and five Washington County sheriff's deputies, responded to the melee . . . The Cod Fish Races are part of the annual Milbridge Days town birthday party. The races are held in a baseball field on a 90-foot course. Each team consists of four people who must dress in four pieces of firemen's gear and then run across the field clenching a greased, dead, 20-pound cod. About mid-track, firemen spray a stream of water from their hoses through the running codfish-wielding racers who try to dodge the dousing.

Kennebec Journal - In the last month and a half, Donald Crabtree says he has collected about $2,000 in monetary donations. At that rate, it would take him more than three years to construct a Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, at a cost he estimates to be $50,000. Crabtree refuses to consider bank loans or financial partners, and the equipment he used for his fall-back business -- wholesale lobstering -- was also destroyed during the June 3 fire that leveled his controversial business and has been ruled arson. Crabtree did not have his building insured, so the destructive fire left him with no income and only a few hundred dollars to his name.

Press Herald on lobster poaching: Each harbor has a different way of dealing with interlopers. Some lobstermen will tie a knot in an intruder's line, write a note on the buoy or tie the buoy upside down as a friendly warning to move away. Others will leave a knife stuck into a rival's Styrofoam buoy or damage a trap so his lobsters can escape. Cutting off a buoy or taking a rival's trap is a much more serious step, and a crime. Each lost or stolen trap costs a lobsterman about $80. Trap-cutting wars can involve dozens, even hundreds, of traps getting cut, and they sometimes lead to fistfights on wharves, slashed truck tires and broken truck windshields. In extreme cases, fishing shacks have been burned and boats sunk.

UPI - Counties in states like Michigan, Maine, New York and Vermont have been taking steps to improve conditions for drivers of off-road vehicles. Included in these efforts are the lifting of bans on the off-road vehicles and the construction of new ATV systems and trail networks, along with increased accessibility to area routes.

Politics1 - Our list of announced and potential gubernatorial candidates in Maine . . . includes 19 Democrats, 12 Republicans, 3 Greens and 6 Independents. That's an astounding 40 people looking at the race (and 13 of them are already announced candidates)

MAINE FACTS

Maine Public Broadcasting -
Maine saw nearly 5,300 foreclosures last year. That's an increase of more than 46 percent over the previous year, and 148 percent over the last five years. This year, the number is expected to grow even higher, with an estimated 5,500 properties expected to go into foreclosure.

Sentencing Project - Maine is one of six states - the others are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota - along with the federal government, where all life sentences are imposed without the possibility of parole

Sun Journal - Maine has a large and healthy black bear population estimated to exceed 23,000. . . Each year hunters take about 10 percent of Maine's bear population. Over the past few years, a couple of bears have been taken taken that weighed in at well over 500 lbs. More bears are bagged in Aroostook County than in any other county.

WHAT'S HAPPENING

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will be in Portland on Aug. 6 to present a sneak preview of his new film for PBS, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." The 12-hour series includes much on the creation and history of Acadia National Park, on the Maine coast. The film will air on PBS beginning Sept. 27. Burns and partner Dayton Duncan will present 55 minutes of highlights from the film at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street, beginning at 7:30 p.m. After the screening, they will answer questions from the audience. Tickets to the event are $15 for adults and $10 for children, available at www.porttix.com or by calling 842-0800.

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