Tags: Agriculture·agriculture in Maine·Civil Rights
November 25th, 2014 · Filed under: Civil Rights
There was no indictment in Ferguson shooting of unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo. A grand jury took three months to decide not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown.
Shortly after the indictment was read President Barack Obama made a statement on national TV,
“I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully. Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words: ‘Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.’ Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone. We should be honoring their wishes,” said the President.
The grand jury process was not conducted as per normal protocols. The grand jury, with nine white and three black members, heard an unprecedented amount of evidence without having any recommendation by the prosecutor. Nine jurors in agreement were needed to bring charges. The grand jury’s process seemed more like a trial than a process to decide if there was “reasonable doubt as to the lawful killing of an individual.” Brown was an unarmed black 18 year old shot 12 times. Trayvon Martin was a young black unarmed man shot dead in Florida… the list unfortunately goes on and points to discrimination.
“Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation. The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Obama.
Read more ›
Solar powered car at ReVision in Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx
The City of Portland unveiled its first electric vehicle charging station last week at the Elm Street Parking Garage. Two level II electric vehicle chargers are now operational, one of which is for use for the City’s new 2014 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and one which is for public use. The level II charger can charge a vehicle in four to five hours as compared to home style chargers that plug-in to any 110-volt outlet and take approximately 12 hours for a full charge.
The City’s new Nissan Leaf is being used by the Inspections Division and will be shared among other employees conducting city business to encourage use. The City was awarded a grant from Central Maine Power that funds half of the Leaf’s two-year lease.
Use of the Leaf allows the City to pilot electric vehicles, diversify its vehicle fleet, realize economic and environmental benefits, offer a public charging station, raise awareness and encourage further adoption of plug-in vehicles, and further its commitment to sustainable transportation options.
November 20th, 2014 · Filed under: Civil Rights
President Barack Obama in Maine in 2012. Photo by Ramona du Houx
President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration, on November 20th in an address to the nation, to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.”
“Keeping families together who have lived here in the United States for years is a worthy goal and will be good for our economy and our communities. I’m glad that President Obama, like 11 other presidents before him, is using executive action on immigration and taking this first step,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
The US Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform with 68 votes but the US House of Representatives have yet to act on the bill. The President’s action puts the pressure on them to function and do what’s right for the nation. It also frees 5 million families from living in fear for three years, or until Congress passes a law. “To those Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” said Obama.
Obama’s executive orders is the foundation for future reform. He highlighted emotional stories of families living in fear wanting to be legal citizens but worried about deportation. Being a nation born of immigrants the President had this to say,”Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too.”
Read more ›
The state of Maine must provide Medicaid coverage to several thousand low income 19- and-20-year-old young adults according to a ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We deny the petition for review and find no constitutional violation,” wrote the Court in it’s determination.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills agreed that the federal government’s action was appropriate.
Maine tried to drop the young adult coverage in 2012, but the federal Department of Health and Human Services disapproved. That’s when the state petitioned for review on constitutional grounds.
Read more ›
Tags: ACA in Maine·Health and Human Services
November 14th, 2014 · Filed under: Capitol news
Attorney General Janet T. Mills reports that her Office has received many recent reports of aggressive calls from scammers demanding immediate payments on supposed debts. The common thread among the scammers is that they attempt to get you to make a payment by wire transfer or pre-paid debit card. Mainers should be very suspicious of anyone calling out of the blue and demanding an immediate payment of a debt, especially if they require that payment by any reloadable cash cards such as Green Dot Money Pak or a wire service like Western Union.
“The names and the details of the scams vary,” Attorney General Mills said. “Typically the caller pretends they are from a business that you know and are attempting to collect an old debt. Perhaps they say you have won a lottery. Sometimes they even claim to be from the state or federal government. The caller has just enough information about you that you believe they are legitimate. The red flag, however, is that they want you to make an instant payment with a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. This is how you know you are getting scammed. Hang up the phone immediately.”
Read more ›
November 13th, 2014 · Filed under: Creative Economy
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), aPortland-based organization, has made a donation of $20 million to help double the number of U.S. college students who study in other countries.
“The ability to move comfortably among cultures makes a difference between college graduates landing a job and finding a path to lifelong career satisfaction,” said David Fougere, CIEE’s chief operating officer.
Less than 10 percent, or around 300,000 U.S. students, study abroad each year. The Generation Study Abroad Initiative grant goal of CIEE is to double that number by 2019.The CIEE runs study-abroad programs for about 35,000 students each year, of which 100 students from Maine used the program last year.
CIEE will also sponsor passports for 10,000 students and make an annual $20,000 grant to college faculty to develop new ways to integrate study-abroad programs into courses.
Tags: maine in the world
Under a new deal, unveiled in Beijing, China by President Barack Obama and President Xi, China, committed to cap its output of carbon pollution by 2030. The Chinese government also promised to increase its use of zero-emission energy sources, such as wind and solar power, to 20 percent by 2030. The United States agreed to double the pace of the cuts in its emissions, reducing them to between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The agreement between the US and China to lower greenhouse-gas output faced a wall of opposition stateside from Republicans in Washington, who threatened to use their control of Congress to stop the plan. But the White House made it clear that the US can deliver the promised reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through existing regulations, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules for power plants, which are the core of President Obama’s climate agenda.
Under the Baldacci administration Maine helped spearhead the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI, which is the first cap-n-trade carbon reduction plan on the East Coast. RGGI has become a model for carbon reduction in the USA. REGGI generates savings in each of the states participating. In Maine those funds are being used to help with energy saving initiatives for consumers as well as businesses. To date RGGI has earned $257 million for these programs.
Read more ›
Tags: climate change deal
November 12th, 2014 · Filed under: Economy
The FairPoint strike in northern New England spilled over onto the streets of New York City today. Dozens of union activists descended on a conference attended by officials of Angelo, Gordon, the Wall Street hedge fund that owns the biggest stake in FairPoint, the troubled telecom company.
“The hypocrisy of Angelo, Gordon is appalling,” said Chris Shelton, Vice President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) for District 1, which includes New England and New York. “They want to make huge profits by investing public employees’ pensions, and then they stand by while FairPoint tries to gut workers’ pensions and end retiree health care. This is a betrayal of their investors and the public and we will expose it at every opportunity.”
The union activists rallied in front of the Union League Club at 37th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan as the 2014 CIO Leaders in Alternative Investing Summit got under way on Wednesday morning.
Angelo, Gordon owns nearly 20 percent of FairPoint’s shares and has a nominee on the company’s board of directors. The Wall Street hedge fund also manages a portion of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), the nation’s third largest public pension fund.
Read more ›
Tags: Fairpoint strike in Maine
November 12th, 2014 · Filed under: Economy, Health Care
by Christy Daggett
This year, 1,300 Mainers will be saddled with catastrophic health costs. Here’s how it could have been avoided – while creating thousands of jobs and boosting state GDP.
On 7-3-2014, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) released a report examining the differences between states that have accepted federal healthcare funds to expand Medicaid and the minority of states – including Maine – which still have not expanded. Fittingly, the report is titled Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid.
The missed opportunities are manifold. First, rejecting billions of dollars in federal funds has predictable consequences for state economies. The states seizing the opportunity are adding jobs – 79,000 in 2014 alone – and enjoying the attendant impact on state GDP. The CEA estimates expansion states will experience $62 billion in new economic activity by 2017.
Meanwhile, non-expansion states are languishing with higher rates of uncompensated care for the uninsured tearing gaping holes in hospital budgets. In Maine, where tens of thousands of people who would be covered remain uninsured, two-thirds of hospitals are struggling with budget shortfalls and layoffs. In contrast, covering 4.3 million uninsured working poor has shored up hospital budgets in expansion states.
Read more ›