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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.

7/29/09

Wednesday July 29

Davi Hench, Press Herald - [Foria Younis, a former terrorism investigator with the FBI] was the key presenter Tuesday at a daylong training program at the University of Southern Maine, attended by 62 officers from across the state. Organized by the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, the training was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice in hopes of helping local and state authorities build ties with people in Muslim communities. . . Maine's Muslim communities are still relatively small, which Dion said can contribute to a sense of isolation and wariness, including when it comes to police. The Muslim populations in Maine include the growing Somali community, primarily in Lewiston and Portland, as well as immigrants from southern Asia. Although many Sudanese are Muslim, most of those who have come to Portland are Christian refugees from southern Sudan.

Troy R. Bennett, Brunswick Times Record - The proposed location for a new bath house at Reid State Park has drawn the ire of some notable area beach goers. . . The project has come to an abrupt halt while the state goes to the Georgetown Planning Board to apply for a building permit, a step state representatives say they weren't made aware of before they began clearing the site last week.. . . The pause in construction - even if it's temporary - is a welcomed time-out for some local opponents of the state's preferred location for the building. Georgetown resident and internationally known artist Dahlov Ipcar is among those who hope the Planning Board process will give the public an opportunity to lobby against the structure's proposed spot.

Kennebec Journal - The Maine Green Independent Party announced that it would support Republican efforts on a people's veto of a tax package passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Baldacci in June. Green leaders said they are against the tax restructuring because they believe it hurts lower-income Mainers and makes the state's system less progressive. In particular, Greens pointed to the elimination of state income tax brackets and the application of sales tax on services such as car repairs. "The new flat tax, in association with new taxes on services such as auto repair, represents a regressive tax system that favors the wealthiest few to the disadvantage of low- and middle-income Mainers," Anna Trevorrow, Green Party chairwoman, said in a statement. . . An analysis by Maine Revenue Services concluded that 87 percent of Maine's 665,000 income tax-paying households would see their overall tax burden decrease. The package will replace Maine's four income tax brackets, which top out at 8.5 percent, with a flat 6.5 percent rate for households that earn less than $250,000 a year, which includes the vast majority of tax filers. Incomes above $250,000 will be taxed at 6.85 percent. The law seeks to recoup the loss in income tax revenue by broadening the state's 5 percent sales tax to a wide number of services never taxed before, such as some amusements, transportation, labor on car repairs, and other goods and services.


Your editor and his wife have been watching Northern Exposure on Tivo. Each episode starts with a scrawny moose wandering through town, which raised the question: are all Alaskan moose that scrawny? In fact, the moose in both Maine and Alaska are about 6-7 feet tall, and top out - for males - at about 1500 pounds. Male Alaskan moose can weight as little as 850 pounds compared to lower end Maine moose who come in at 1000 pounds. The moose hired for the Northern Exposure walk on - the show reportedly paid $5000 - was named Morty and was an orphan when found and brought to Washington State University for research. It didn't work all that well. Between being studied and suffering from a mineral deficiency, Morty the Moose died at the age of 6, compared to the typical male moose who lives from 7 to 18 years.

Forecaster - The Cathance River Education Alliance has a new solar-powered cart. Now all it needs is sunshine. A rooftop panel weighing only 3.75 pounds is powering the alliance's trail maintenance golf cart. A State Farm Insurance grant to the alliance's sustainability education programs funded the project. The cutting-edge amorphous silicon panel has three layers, each made to capture a different portion of solar light. It charges the cart's batteries on cloudy days, and sends a constant 1.35-amp charge to the cart's 48-volt battery pack. . . The panel cost about $1,300. The chassis of the cart was then given a 6-inch lift and all-terrain tires in order to more easily ride the trails.

Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal - Donald Christen, a longtime medical marijuana advocate, lost his bid to reverse his conviction for growing marijuana. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court published an opinion Tuesday upholding Christen's conviction for aggravated marijuana cultivation. Christen had maintained he "was growing marijuana legally as a designated caregiver for several people who qualified as eligible patients pursuant to Maine's medical marijuana statute." A jury in Somerset County disagreed, and Christen appealed the conviction

Seacoast Online - New Hampshire retained its title of the best place in the United States to raise children, while Maine hovered just outside of the top 10 in an annual report. In the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count report, New Hampshire was declared the top state for the fifth year in a row, while Maine was 12th. The report uses 10 different measures to determine the general well-being of children in all 50 states. . . Maine moved up four places since 2006's data release, but the state has fallen since 1999, when it was ranked in the top five. Maine Children's Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Dean Crocker pointed to an increase in unemployment and a statewide high school dropout rate of 20 percent or above.

University of Maine - "Tales plucked from the brink of oblivion" is how author Marcus LiBrizzi, associate professor of English at the University of Maine at Machias describes his new 118-page, illustrated book, recently published by through the UMaine Folklife Center. "Lost Atusville: A Black Settlement from the American Revolution" provides a rare look at African-American life in early New England. Shedding light on the history of slavery, segregation, and integration in Maine, the book traces the rise and fall of a long-forgotten black community, the settlement of Atusville. The book chronicles the facts, fiction and folklore of a small community founded by London Atus, a slave who earned his freedom in part because of his role in the American Revolutionary War and the famous attack -- the first naval battle of the war -- on the British warship The Margaretta in the Machias in 1775. While Atusville had six African-American families with 36 residents and its own school at one time, the last of its residents died in the mid-1960s.

University of Maine - Research by two University of Maine economists shows that spending by cruise ship passengers delivered $5.8 million to $8 million to the Portland area last year, representing an expanding revenue source that could increase if cruise ship visits to the city continue to increase. The spending estimates are conclusions drawn from surveys of nearly 1,300 passengers disembarking in Portland last fall for shopping, sight-seeing and dining in or around Portland.. . . The researchers found that the typical cruise ship passenger spends $80 per day in the Portland region . . . Portland's cruise ship passengers tend to be older, well-educated, affluent and veterans of previous ocean cruises. Many are from states west of the Mississippi River, notably California, Texas, Arizona and Missouri. Maine's traditional tourist profile has been the vacationer who drives here from nearby New England states. Cruise ship dockings are increasing each year. This year, 45 ships with nearly 70,000 passengers are expected in Portland. Next year, 68 ships are scheduled, more than doubling the number of ships visiting Portland in two years.

Maine Today - The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will offer valet bicycle parking and Park and Pedal options at the American Folk Festival in Bangor on August 28-30. . . Seven Park and Pedal sites will accommodate cyclists coming from all directions. Locations may be found at www.BikeMaine.org. Distances from the parking areas to the festival range from one to 12 miles.

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