• Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says a vote on Question 1 would mean kids could have pot

    At a forum at the Portland Public Library on October 18, 2016 about 100 people discussed the legalization of marijuana on the Nov. 8 ballot.

    Last week, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said that a if you vote yes on Question 1 you would allow kids to possess pot.The attorney general asserted that the proposal, if approved, would repeal existing laws prohibiting marijuana use by juveniles.

    Jennifer Ackerman, a deputy district attorney for Cumberland County, also said at the Portland forum that Question 1 would make it legal for children to have pot. “It will be lawful for children to possess marijuana if you vote ‘yes,’ ” said Ackerman.

    If passed new legislation could be written to prohibit the sale to underage kids. That process would have to go through the legislature and be approved, meanwhile anyone would be able to buy marijuana if the referendum passes on Nov. 8.

    California has a more comprehensive measure on their ballot. Many proponents have said if California passes that bill, the nation will follow.

  • Obama on progress his administration has made in education

    Some remarks from President Barack Obama on progress his administration has made in education-

    The President was addressing a high school asembly at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C. on October 17, 2016:

    We live in a global economy.  And when you graduate, you’re no longer going to be competing just with somebody here in D.C. for a great job.  You’re competing with somebody on the other side of the world, in China or in India, because jobs can go wherever they want because of the Internet and because of technology.  And the best jobs are going to go to the people who are the best educated -- whether in India or China, or anywhere in the world.  

    So when I took office almost eight years ago, we knew that our education system was falling short when it came to preparing young people like you for that reality.  Our public schools had been the envy of the world, but the world caught up.  And we started getting outpaced when it came to math and science education.  And African American and Latino students, in part because of the legacy of discrimination, too often lagged behind our white classmates -- something called the achievement gap that, by one estimate, costs us hundreds of billions of dollars a year.  And we were behind other developed countries when it came to the number of young people who were getting a higher education.  So I said, when I first came into office, by 2020 I want us to be number one again.  I want us to be number one across the board. 

    So we got to work, making real changes to improve the chances for all of our young people, from the time they're born all the way through until they got a career.  And the good news is that we’ve made real progress.  So I just wanted to talk to you about the progress we've made, because you are the reason we've made progress -- some outstanding young people all across the country.

    We recently learned that America’s high school graduation rate went up to 83 percent, which is the highest on record.  That's good news.  (Applause.)  More African American and Latino students are graduating than ever before.  (Applause.)  Right here in D.C., in just five years, the graduation rate in the District of Columbia public schools went from just 53 percent to 69 percent.  (Applause.)  So D.C.'s graduation rates grew faster than any other place in the country this year -- this past year.  That's something to be really proud of.  (Applause.) 

    Now, of course, here at Banneker, you graduated 100 percent of your seniors last year.  (Applause.)  One hundred percent.  It's been a while since I did math, but 100 percent is good.  (Laughter.)  You can't do better than that.  So what all these numbers mean is that more schools across D.C. and across the country are starting to catch up to what you guys are doing here, at this school.

    Now, some of the changes we made were hard, and some of them were controversial.  We expected more from our teachers and our students.  But the hard work that people have put in across the country has started to pay off. 

    And I just want to talk to you a little bit about some of the things that we did.  It starts with our youngest learners.  High-quality early education is one of the best investments we can make, which is why we’ve added over 60,000 children to Head Start.  We called for high-quality preschool for every four-year-old in America.  And when I took office, only 38 states offered access to state-funded preschool.  Today, it’s up to 46. We're trying to get those last holdouts to do the right thing.   And, by the way, the District of Columbia leads the nation with the highest share of children -- nearly 9 out of 10 -- in high-quality preschool.  And that's a big achievement.  (Applause.)  

    We launched then a competition called Race to the Top, which inspired states to set higher, better standards so that we could out-teach and out-compete other nations, and make sure that we've got high expectations for our students.  D.C. was one of the winners of this competition.  It upgraded standards, upgraded curriculum, worked to help teachers build their skills.  And that, in part, is why D.C. has done so well. 

    We realized that in today’s world, when you all have a computer in your pocket in those phones, then you need to learn not just how to use a phone, you need to learn computer science.  So we’re working with private and philanthropic partners to bring high schools into the 21st century and give you a more personalized and real-world experience.  We're bringing in high-speed internet into schools and libraries, reaching 20 million more students and helping teachers with digital learning.  And coding isn’t, by the way, just for boys in Silicon Valley, so we’re investing more in getting girls and young women and young people of color and low-income students into science and engineering and technology and math.  (Applause.) 

    And because we know that nothing is more important than a great teacher -- and you’ve got some great teachers here, as well as a great principal at Banneker -- (applause) -- we have focused on preparing and developing and supporting and rewarding excellent educators.  You all know how hard they work.  They stay up late grading your assignments.  That's why you got all those marks all over your papers.  They pull sometimes money out of their own pockets to make that lesson extra special.  And I promise you, the teachers here and the teachers around the country, they’re not doing it for the pay -- because teachers, unfortunately, still aren't paid as much as they should be.  They’re not doing it for the glory.  They’re doing it because they love you, and they believe in you, and they want to help you succeed. 

    So teachers deserve more than just our gratitude -- they deserve our full support.  And we've got to make their lives easier, which is why we enacted a law to fix No Child Left Behind, which gives teachers more flexibility to spend more time teaching creatively than just spending all their time teaching to a test.  Give your teachers a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  They deserve it.   

    So we've made real progress, but here’s the thing -- and I think all of you know this because you go to this great school-- a high school education these days is not enough.  By 2020, two out of three job openings require some form of higher education.  Now, that doesn’t always mean a four-year college degree, but it does mean -- whether it's a four-year university, or a community college, or some sort of training program -- you’ve got to get a little bit more than just what you're getting in high school. 

    It used to be that a high school job might be enough because you could go into a factory or even go into an office and just do some repetitive work, and if you were willing to work hard you could make a decent living.  But the problem is repetitive work now is done by machines.  And that's just going to be more and more true.  So in order for you to succeed in the marketplace, you’ve got to be able to think creatively; you’ve got to be able to work with a team; you’ve got to be able to work with a machine and figure out how to make it tailored for the specific requirements of your business and your job.  All those things require some more sophisticated thinking than just sitting there and just doing the same thing over and over again.  And that's why you’ve got to have more than just a high school education. 

    And if you doubt that, I just want to give you some statistics.  Compared to a high school diploma, just getting a degree from a two-year school, going to a community college and getting an associate’s degree could earn you more than $300,000 over the course of your lifetime.  And a four-year degree earns you a million dollars more than if you just had a high school degree.  Think about that.  A million dollars -- that's real money.

    So one of the things that we’re trying to do is to make it easier for you to access free money for college -- to figure out how you can pay for your college without having a mountain of debt.  And the key thing, as you know here at Banneker, but I want all the students around the country to do this -- and Michelle and I and others have been really emphasizing this -- is to fill out your FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

    How many people -- how many seniors here have already filled out their FAFSA forms?  (Applause.)  All right.  How many seniors here have not filled out their FAFSA forms?  Fess up now.  (Laughter.)  You sure?  All right, I just want to make sure now.  And, juniors, you can start getting ready now.

    Because what the FAFSA does is it puts you in the running for scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs, all to help you pay for college.  And we've made it simpler than ever.  And it's available right now at -- And since this is one of the most important investments of your life, next year's FAFSA is also going to direct you to something we created, called our College Scorecard. 

    Now, here's what this is.  It gives you comprehensive information on every college in America.  Now, some of you who have started applying for colleges, you know about these college rankings, right?  It's like, oh, this is the best school.  And some of that information is useful; some of it not so much.  But unlike traditional rankings that focus on which school has the fanciest dorm or the nicest football stadiums, or is the most expensive or the most exclusive, what our College Scorecard does is it focuses on some of the things that really matter for your future.  Things like how many students actually graduate from the school -- because it's not enough just to enroll in college; you've got to graduate from college.  How much money do their alumni earn?  What percentage of their students can pay back their loans?  And what we’ve done is we've worked with companies like Google to put this information right at your fingertips. 

    So for a decision this important, we want you to be able to comparison shop to figure out how do you get the best value for your money, just like if you were buying something on Amazon.  If you were buying a car or you're buying a phone or you're buying anything, especially if it's a pretty big purchase, you want to know ahead of time, is this legit.  And what this does is makes you think about what your options are. 

    Now, you've got some great counselors here.  Obviously, you should work with them.  But not every student may be going to a school like Banneker that has as many good counselors to think about their college education.  And using this College Scorecard is going to be helpful for them to do a little comparison shopping.  Because you don't want to go to the school just because it's the closest one, and it turns out it's more expensive and doesn't do as good of a job as if you were willing to maybe travel someplace else, and it turns out that you could get the financial aid you need to go to a school that's more suited toward your needs.

    So we also reformed, by the way, the student loan system.  When I came into office, you had tens of billions of dollars that were going to big banks, serving as middlemen for your student loans.  We said, well, let's cut out the banks.  Let's give the money directly to the students so they can afford college and we can make the loans cheaper, and we can expand Pell grants. 

    And now, what we're trying to do is to push to make two years of community college free for every responsible student all across the country.  All across the country.  (Applause.)  And we're starting to work with colleges and universities around the country to bring down the cost of college so that at the end of four years of college you're not saddled with a whole bunch of debt -- because nobody should be priced out of a higher education.  (Applause.) 

    So bottom line is:  higher graduation rates, higher college attendance rates, more money for Pell grants and work to make sure that the interest rate on student loans haven't gone up; working to expand early childhood education and preschool; continuing to watch and work with states as they try to implement reforms to make K-12 better; holding colleges more accountable for giving information so that students can make good decisions.  We've made a lot of progress.  We have made a lot of progress in terms of making sure that young people across the country get the kind of great education that you're getting here at Banneker.  And I am really proud of what we've accomplished.  I'm proud of what the District of Columbia has accomplished.

    But I just want to be honest with you:  We've still got more work to do.  So as I go, I'm giving you kind of a final report card, transcript on what more we’ve got to get done.

    There are still too many states that are cutting back on public education.  And part of the reason tuition is going up is because states aren’t putting as much money into state education, universities, community colleges as they used to.  That’s why, if you’re 18, by the way, you’ve got to vote to make sure that the folks who represent you actually deliver.  (Applause.)

    We’ve still got too many states that have not really worked in a serious way to raise standards and improve performance.  In too many school districts, we still have schools that, despite the heroic efforts of a lot of great teachers, are not fully preparing our kids for success because they just don’t have the resources to do it or the structure to do it.  We’ve still got too many high schools where a third of their students do not earn their diplomas on time.

    For too many students in America, zip code still determines how far they’ll go.  And that’s not acceptable.  Some of you probably have friends or family who are just as smart or talented or as capable as you, but they didn’t have the same support or the right opportunities or didn’t get in the right school, and so now don’t have the same shot at success.  Am I right?  Because I know that’s true in our family.  Michelle and I, we’ve got cousins and friends who we’ve known since they were shorties, little kids -- (laughter) -- and they -- we know how smart they are because they were just as smart as we were, but just the luck of the draw was they didn’t get the same chance as we did.  And that’s not right. 

    So that’s why I started something called My Brother’s Keeper initiative, because what we want to do is help more young people, especially kids of color, get mentorships and the resources and the guidance they need to succeed.  And I’m going to stay involved with that even after I’m done being President.  (Applause.)  Because we all have a part to play in making sure every single child has every single opportunity to achieve his or her dreams.

    That’s what Banneker is all about.  That’s what you can see in somebody like Ifunaya.  I mean, that’s an incredible young lady who’s going to succeed because she has an incredible school in addition to an incredible family.  (Applause.)  And so we’re so proud of her. 

    There’s another person I want to just call out -- Amari McDuffie.  Where’s Amari?  Where’s Amari?  There she is right there, right in front.  (Applause.)  So, hey, Amari.  I’m going to talk about you for a second.  (Laughter.) 

    So Amari was born with a heart and a lung condition.  And sometimes she had to miss a lot of school because of her illness.  And you know, Banneker is a pretty rigorous school, so she was worried about staying on top of her work.  But everybody in this family rallied around her and made sure she was keeping up.  Her history teacher, Mr. Goldfarb -- where’s Mr. Goldfarb?  (Applause.)  Is he here or did he cut assembly?  (Laughter.)  So Mr. Goldfarb came to visit her when Amari was in the hospital for weeks, brought a card from the whole class.  And so Amari, she was talking about the support everybody here gave her, and she said, “I believed in myself because my teachers believed in me.” 

    And that’s the kind of community that we want in every school -- where you’re looking out for each other and you’re taking care of one another.  And so now Amari plans to be a doctor so she can help kids who had illnesses like hers.  And that’s what’s possible -- (applause) -- that's what's possible when we’re all committed to each other’s success; when we understand that no matter what you look like, where you come from, what faith you are, whether you’re a boy or a girl -- that you should have great opportunities to succeed.  And that requires you to put effort into it.  

    Michelle and I talk a lot because we travel around the world and sometimes we forget that there are places around the world where people have so little but the kids are so hungry for an education.  And they don’t even have an actual roof over their head in some of their schools.  And so even if you’re really poor in this country, you can succeed if you want to invest in the teachers and the community, and everybody raises standards and believes in each other.  And that’s what we want all of America to believe, in every kid -- because there’s magic in each and every one of you.  And we just have to help you unleash it and nurture it and realize it. 

    And, by the way, it’s because of young people like you that I leave the presidency never more optimistic than I am right now, because I’ve met so many young people around the country whose energy, and excitement, and how you treat each other, with respect.  That gives me a lot of confidence, a lot of faith for our country. 

    So I know you guys are going to keep on working hard.  You’re going to keep making our communities proud.  If us adults do our part and we stay focused on making sure every school is as great as this one, and that every young person has those same opportunities, and everybody has a teacher like Mr. Goldfarb looking out for them, I’ve got no doubt that we're going to continue to build a country where everybody has the chance to make of their lives what they will.  And that’s what America is all about.


  • Biotech in Maine - from printing bone and muscle to lung cancer testing

    Research and development in biotechnology is the main cause of the industry’s growth, and the latest biotech news reflects this. Inventions and innovations in 2016 span diagnostics, consumer electronics, artificial human tissue and cryopreservation.

    The latest biotechnology news demonstrates what the future of this field might hold for healthcare and beyond.

    3-D Bioprinting

    A team at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center developed an integrated tissue-organ printer able to produce human-scale tissue of any shape, according toNature Biotechnology.

    The printer improves on previous attempts by using a technique that 3-D prints tissues that includes micro-channels, which allows nutrients to penetrate the tissue. Tissues are given a water-based gel, containing the cells and encouraging them to grow, according to the BBC.

    The study found that sections of bone, muscle and cartilage all functioned normally when implanted into animals. Scientists called it a significant advance for regenerative medicine, and Martin Birchall, a surgeon at University College London, told the BBC the results were “striking.”

    “The prospect of printing human tissues and organs for implantation has been a real one for some time, but I confess I did not expect to see such rapid progress,” Birchall said, predicting that it will be less than a decade before surgeons begin trials of customized printed organs and tissues.

    Google Glass Applications

    Stanford University graduate student Catalin Voss’ Autism Glass project won the $15,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize in 2016. The competition is open to new inventions in healthcare as well as transportation, food and agriculture or consumer devices.

    The 20-year-old inventor’s project adds emotion-recognition software for Google Glass that tells a child with autism whether a person the child looks at is happy, sad or angry, Scientific American explains. Autism Glass uses a smartphone with software to analyze data from the Google Glass and provide feedback to the user. It also records video for parents to review and to help children improve their learning.

    Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced the remote monitoring of organs-on-chips via Google Glass, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. Organs-on-chips are microchips that recapitulate the microarchitecture and functions of living organs. They are used for drug testing and development as well as studying the function of healthy or diseased organs.

    The custom Google Glass application allowed researchers to monitor and control microfluidically sustained liver and heart tissues. They were able to oversee parameters like temperature, pH and morphology of organs-on-chips. They were also able to activate valves remotely to introduce pharmaceutical compounds to organoid tissues. The technology could make applications in biomedicine and healthcare safer (such as work with viruses, radioactive compounds and highly pathogenic bacteria) and more efficient.

    Lung Cancer Testing

    A fast and accurate test is able to detect biomarkers of lung cancer in saliva, according to Medical News Today. In just 10 minutes, patients can receive a result in the comfort of a doctor’s office.

    The breakthrough comes after 10 years of research, led by oral cancer and saliva diagnostics researcher David Wong of the School of Dentistry at UCLA. The “liquid biopsy” method searches for circulating tumor DNA in bodily fluids such as saliva and blood. The saliva test detects genetic mutations in a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which normally helps cells grow and divide. Mutations in the EGFR are associated with lung cancer.

    Trials in lung cancer patients are taking place in China, as of February 2016. Wong and his colleagues are looking at a saliva test for detecting mutations linked to cancers of the mouth and the back of the throat.

    Orchid Cryopreservation 

    A literature review from Biotechnology Advances details orchid cryopreservation efforts, focusing on recent advances in the development of orchid cryobiotechnology. This field applies a wide range of cryopreservation methods to orchid explants (cells, organs or pieces of tissue), such as the following applications.

    * Programmed freezing for pollen.

    * Encapsulation-dehydration and encapsulation-vitrification for seeds, protocorms and shoot tips.

    * Vitrification for seeds, cultured cells, shoot tips and protocorms.

    * Droplet-vitrification for shoot tips and protocorms.

    * Preculture-desiccation for shoot primordia and rhizomes.

    Successful development and application of cryobiotechnology extends to nearly 100 species and commercial hybrids of orchids. However, given the diversity of the orchid family (Orchidaceae), this covers less than 0.5 percent of the species. Further efforts are needed to safeguard genetic diversity of the socioeconomically important and culturally valuable orchid species. Orchids derived from cryogenically stored material can be propagated and later reintroduced into their native habitats.

    Orchids are used as food, flavorings, medicines, ornaments and perfumes. Recent clinical trials have proved the medicinal value of some traditional used orchid species. The presence of medicinally active chemicals such as polysaccharides and secondary metabolites including alkaloids, glycosides, phenolic compounds and many others have been also documented in orchid tissues. Orchids are most often used in the modern world as ornamentals and represent 8 percent of the global floriculture trade.

  • Maine community and business leaders slam PUC for holding back solar energy jobs

    On October 17, 2016, at a public hearing by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), a large crowd of Maine residents, business owners, community leaders, and others gathered to oppose the agency’s proposal to roll back solar power rules called “net metering.”

    The hearing addressed the PUC proposal to phase out net metering, the simple mechanism that makes solar affordable for Maine people and businesses by crediting them for excess electricity they provide to the grid.

                                                  The PUC has proposed new fees on the power that solar customers don’t export to the grid but instead use right at their home or business and, over time, to cut the 1-to-1 bill credit for solar production by more than 50 percent. This would make it less affordable to install solar panels and decrease the amount of solar that will be installed in Maine in coming years.

    Those gathered criticized the PUC proposal as extreme, unfair, and likely even illegal.

    “The failure of the Public Utilities Commission to do the right thing means it is more important than ever for the Maine Legislature to step up and pass a solar bill next session,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine people, businesses, and municipalities see solar as an opportunity to lower costs, boost our economy, create jobs, and reduce dependence on dirty fuels. But lack of leadership from too many of our decision-makers leaves Maine in last place regionally in taking advantage of this opportunity.”

    Many speakers called on the Legislature to adopt a pro-solar, pro-jobs policy to get Maine of its current last-place standing in the Northeast.                                                                                

     “The PUC failed to do its job, which was to properly review net metering, and ignored evidence from its own study about the benefits and cost-savings solar brings to everyone in Maine who pays an electric bill,” said Vaughan Woodruff, owner of Insource Renewables in Pittsfield. “As a result, the proposed rule change would not only take Maine in the wrong direction on solar, but it would also mean higher electric bills for Maine ratepayers.”

    While solar power is enjoying enormous growth and feeding rapid job creation across the Northeast and beyond, Maine remains in last place regionally on solar installations and jobs, due to the lack of effective state policy.

    “Dairy farming and dairy processing is an energy-intensive business, and managing our energy costs is important to our bottom line,” said Caitlin Frame, co-owner of The Milkhouse in Monmouth. “Because of this, and our commitment to sustainability, this year we began to explore in earnest the possibility of installing solar to substantially reduce our energy costs and give us a more predictable electricity cost for our business to rely on in the long run. Net metering is a critical component of farms like ours going solar.”

    During the PUC’s so-called “review” of net metering this summer, approximately 4,400 Maine people and organizations submitted comments or signed petitions asking the PUC to leave net metering intact (or make changes that expand its availability). Those comments came from 315 Maine towns. About 300 commenters/signers in support of net metering were from Aroostook, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Franklin counties. Only one citizen submitted a comment to weaken net metering, and they were joined by Central Maine Power and the Governor’s Energy Office. 

    A poll conducted by Critical Insights this month shows that a clear majority (62percent) of Mainers oppose a rollback or “phase out” of net metering, compared to 25 percent who support it. Across every demographic and political subgroup, a majority oppose the move by the PUC, including: Republicans (56%), Independents (62 percent, 2nd Congressional District (59 percent), those with household income less than $50,000 (65 percent), age 65+ (59 percent), and others. 

    “The City of Belfast has invested in municipal solar projects to reduce energy costs and provide long-term financial stability to taxpayers,” said Sadie Lloyd, Assistant Planner with the City of Belfast. “Our systems generate up to 20 percent of the City’s electric bill. Net metering is crucial to municipal solar projects. Without net metering, the City of Belfast would not have installed solar. For this reason we urge the PUC to continue the program.”

    According to its own rules, the PUC was required to “review net energy billing to determine whether it should continue or be modified” because solar installations have reached one percent of the power generated in Maine. During this “review” the PUC, a quasi-judicial agency, gathered no evidence and conducted no analysis that was subject to public scrutiny, despite the fact that commenters repeatedly asked the Commission to complete some analysis of net metering before proposing changes.


    “Growing up on a third-generation dairy farm in Albion, I never expected I’d have a job in solar power just down the road in Liberty,” said Holly Noyes, a financial manager at Revision Energy. “I left the state after college so I could pay off my student loans. But I wanted to be back in Maine to get involved with my family’s farm and be a part of the small communities that make Maine a great state. A good job in solar power made that possible. It would be a terrible mistake to risk those jobs instead of taking steps to triple them so other young people like me can live and work here, too.”

    The PUC proposal would make four major changes to existing net metering rules:

    1. Phase out net metering as it currently exists. For new solar customers, this phase-out would reduce what they receive for the solar power they put on the grid by more than half of what they receive today.
    2. Put a new fee on new solar customers for consuming the power they produce right in their own home or business!This new grid tax is hidden behind a new phrase called “nettable energy.” It is analogous to the grocery store charging for food grown in your garden.
    3. Give existing solar customers continued use of traditional net metering for 15 years, after which they would be subject to the two solar rollbacks above, too. No other state has such a short term.
    4. Removes the 10-person limit on community solar farms – however larger solar farms will also be subject to the phase-out of net metering bill credits, so the proposal gives with one hand and takes away with the other.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans available in Maine for drought recovery

    ATLANTA - The U.S. Small Business Administration announced on October 17, 2016 that federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations located inMaine as a result of the drought that began on Sept. 27, 2016.

    The SBA’s disaster declaration includes the following counties: Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset, Waldo and York in Maine.

    “When the Secretary of Agriculture issues a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops, the Small Business Administration issues a declaration to eligible entities affected by the same disaster,” said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

    Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible 

    farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster.  With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers or ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

    The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years.  The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.  These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.  The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

    Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at

    Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to  Loan applications can be downloaded from  Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155. 

    Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than June 5, 2017.

  • 'We have the power to declare that ‘enough is enough' says AG Mills, Simpson in Bangor outside Trump rally

    Maine Attorney General Janet Mills speaks at a press conference before Donald Trump's rally at the venue later that afternoon. Katie Mae Simpson looks on with concern. Courtesy photo

    by Ramona du Houx

    Donald Trump held a rally in Bangor, Maine on October 15, 2016. The millionare decided to make Bangor a stop on his campaign for President, because Maine's 2nd District may vote for him, eventhough Sen. Collins has witdrawn her support of the Republican candidate and Trump has made outragious comments towards women.

    Gathered outside the Cross Insurance Center, before Trump spoke to a rally, Democrats called out the fomer Reality show host for his remarks that glorified sexual violence.

     “I grew up in Washington County, here in the 2nd Congressional District,” said Maine Democratic Party Executive Director Katie Mae Simpson. “When I was twelve years old, I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by several boys on my school bus. They grabbed me, without my consent, in the way that Donald Trump described grabbing women. I have a five-year-old daughter, and I do not want her to reach her pre-teen years – the age at which I was assaulted – with Donald Trump as her president. Trump has been to Maine several times, convinced that he can earn at least one of our electoral votes. I hope Mainers will join me in saying enough is enough, that we can work together to end rape culture. The first step is to end the political career of a man who dismisses the glorification of sexual violence as just ‘locker room talk.’” 

     In a tape made public by the Washington Post last week, Trump suggested he could touch and kiss women without their consent because he was a “star.” 

    “No man should ever treat or speak of women the way that Donald Trump has,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett. “Trump’s comments are not ‘locker room talk,’ and many athletes have come forward to dispel this myth. Rather, they are the language of misogyny that has been prevalent throughout his entire campaign.”

    Since the first tape surfaced, the flood gates have opened and new stories about sexual asults by Trump have serfaced. He is currently under investagation, accused of raping a 13 year old. A court date has been set.

    “Donald Trump’s inexcusable actions that demean and degrade women have no place in Maine and no place in the White House,” Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. “I urge Mainers to remember First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to action: ‘We have knowledge, we have a voice, we have a vote.’ Early voting by absentee has already begun in Maine. We have the power to declare that ‘enough is enough,’ and that we will not tolerate this deeply-rooted misogyny in our country. I urge Mainers to visit your town clerk’s office next week and cast your ballot against Donald Trump as soon as you can.”

    Several Democratic state legislators and members of various chapters of the Maine College Democrats stood in support at the press conference.


  • Campaign Launched in Maine to Expand Access To Health Care Coverage

    A broad coalition, on October 12, 2016, launched a citizens’ initiative campaign to expand access to health care for tens of thousands of Mainers.

    The campaign will begin collecting signatures to place a question on the November 2018ballot that would allow Maine to accept federal funds to provide health coverage through the expansion of MaineCare. 

    “Five times, Republicans, Democrats and independents have come together to do the right thing in the Legislature, but the governor has prevented its progress each time,” said Dr. Chuck Radis of Portland, a citizen sponsor of the initiative. “If lawmakers in Augusta can’t get it done, we will be left with no choice but to take our case to Maine voters. Making sure more people have access to health care coverage is too important to wait any longer. We can’t allow one person to stand in the way of making Maine healthier and our economy stronger.”

    Accepting federal funds would provide health coverage to about 70,000 low-income Mainers, most who work, including 3,000 veterans and at least 20,000 working parents with children living at home. 

    If successful, the initiative would ensure that affordable health care is available to families earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is about $27,821 for a family of three. 

    Accepting the dollars set aside for Maine would also restore affordable coverage for the 40,000 people in Maine who lost health care coverage when Maine opted not to accept these federal funds.   

    “I go to work everyday to earn a living and to support my family, but I still can’t afford health insurance,” said Kathy Phelps, a hairdresser from Waterville, who lost coverage. “I’m a mother and a grandmother, and I don’t expect anything for free. I work hard, but I can’t afford the cost of health insurance or health care. At 59, I still have six years to go before I qualify for Medicare. This initiative could save my life.”

    Accepting federal funds to expand MaineCare coverage is a good deal for Maine. The federal government would pay most of the cost of coverage for newly eligible people (95-93 percent of the cost through 2019 and 90 percent in 2020 and beyond). 

    The initiative also would bring nearly $470 million in new federal funds to our state and create more than 3,000 good paying jobs, while saving the state budget an estimated $27 million a year.

    “MaineCare provides access to health care that many Mainers, including veterans who would otherwise be unable to get insurance,” said Tom Ptacek, the veteran’s health care outreach community organizer at Preble Street. “Accepting federal dollars to expand MaineCare will help our state fight addiction, keep people in their homes and make it possible for them to work.” 

    Thirty-two states, including the District of Columbia, have accepted federal funds to provide health care to people with low-incomes. Maine is the only state in New England that has not expanded access to health care. 

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation studied 11 states that accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid programs and concluded that states “consistently show that expansion generates savings and revenue which can be used to finance other state spending priorities or to offset much, if not all, of the state costs of expansion.”

    The report cited the many benefits of expanding Medicaid including reduced state spending on programs serving the uninsured and broader benefits, including job growth, deep reductions in state uninsured rates and related decreases in hospital uncompensated care costs.

    To place a question on the 2018 ballot, the coalition will need to collect at least 61,123 signatures.

  • Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership Supporters Join Congresswoman Giffords

    By Ramona du Houx

    Portland Maine Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, along with citizen co-sponsor of Question 3 ballot initiative, Judi Richardson, joined former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ 14-state, 42-day national “Vocal Majority Tour” in support of the Mainers for Responsible Gun Ownership campaign on October 12,2016.

    The trio called on Mainers to vote to reduce gun violence in this election by voting Yes on Question 3.

    “Stopping gun violence takes courage - the courage to do what's right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords“Now is the time to come together - to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans - everyone.”

    On January 8, 2011, at a “Congress On Your Corner” event in Tucson with her constituents, Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head from near point-blank range. In stepping down from Congress in January 2012, Congresswoman Giffords said, “I will return, and we will work together for Arizona and this great country.” She is doing so with her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, with the organization that they founded- Americans for Responsible Solutions- as a way to encourage elected officials to stand up for safer communities. 

    Police Chief Sauschuck, (photo left with Giffords) who along with the Maine Chiefs of Police Association recently endorsed the Yes on 3 campaign, called on the Vocal Majority of Americans and Maine residents who support responsible change to our gun laws to stand up and speak out. 

    “Question 3 on this year’s ballot will close an enormous loophole in the law that means criminals, domestic abuse perpetrators and the severely mentally ill can more easily access firearms in our state. While no law will stop all crime, we know that background checks are the single most effective way to reduce gun violence, said Sauschuck.

    “I’m here today with Judi Richardson and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, because we are all standing up and speaking out for what we know to be true: background checks are the best way of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people who would use them to do harm to themselves or others.”

    Question 3 will require background checks for all gun sales in Maine, with reasonable exceptions for passing guns on to family members, and for loaning of guns between friends and neighbors while hunting.

    In states that require background checks on all handgun sales, FBI and CDC statistics have shown that there are 48 percent fewer police officers killed by handguns, 48 percent fewer suicides by firearms and 48 percent less gun trafficking.

    This measure is particularly important for Maine, where nearly half of all murders are due to domestic violence. FBI statistics indicate that in states that have similar laws to Question 3, 46 percent fewer women are shot and killed by their intimate partners.

     “There is more the people of Maine can be doing to help make our state safer. By voting to support Question 3 on election day, Mainers are using their voices to close the loophole in our law that means criminals can get a gun on the unlicensed market with no questions asked and face no responsibility for their actions when they use that gun in a crime. Question 3 is just a common sense solution to prevent prohibited persons from having easy access to firearms,” said Richardson, citizen co-sponsor of the Question 3 ballot initiative.

    The Vocal Majority Tour event in Portland was the 17th stop in the 42-day Tour, which Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly kicked off on September 27th in Orlando, Florida, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history, the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead.

    Following the event today in Portland, the Vocal Majority Tour will travel to Portsmouth, New Hampshire for events with the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

    According to recent research, a strong majority of Mainers support this common-sense initiative that will help to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including closing the loopholes in our laws that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without a background check.

    While some Sheriff's in Maine opose the measure the majority of police officers in the state's largest cities support the common sense plan. It's important to note that sheriffs are elected officials and many are up for re-election.

  • Richard Wolffe: ‘The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers’

    Richard Wolffe: ‘The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers’

    That banging sound you heard were the last nails being hammered into the coffin of the Trump campaign. Or it might have been the thumping of Donald Trump as he stalked the debate stage.

    Either way, the Republican nominee treated the notion of a contrite, humble performance with all the subtlety of a subway train. Not for him was the usual shame we associate with someone caught in a moment of sleaze.

    He prowled around Hillary Clinton, looming behind her when she approached the undecided voters in the audience. He hugged himself and hooked his hands in his belt. He inhaled so sharply through his nose that he sounded like he was snorting his own insults.

    Wounded animals behave in strange ways, and Donald Trump was nothing if not strange at the second presidential debate. He went far beyond barking his usual interruptions and conspiracies from the darkest corners of the internet: he answered a question from a Muslim voter by saying it was “a shame” there was Islamophobia. Then, two feet away from his questioner, he stoked Islamophobia as much as he possibly could: “We could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.”

    ‘Trump prowled around Hillary Clinton, looming behind her when she approached the undecided voters in the audience’

    He blamed Hillary Clinton for allowing him to pay no taxes. “Of course I do,” he admitted, when asked if he took advantage of tax loopholes. “So do all of her donors or most of her donors.”

    He blamed both Clintons for raising the issue of sexual assault, as if he was just a hapless victim. “I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth,” he said.

    In any normal presidential debate, a nominee would be embarrassed to say something that evoked Gerald Ford’s calamitous assertion that there was no Soviet domination of eastern Europe. But Trump bettered Ford by several thermonuclear warheads: “I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia,” he said.

    The nicest thing you could say about Trump’s performance was that it was bonkers. A Red Bull display of sheer madness all the way to the end, when Clinton complimented his children.

    “I don’t know if it was meant to be a compliment,” he said. Donald Trump knows about elections but he knows nothing about their inner workings.

  • Bernie Sanders in Bangor and energizes Democrats to vote for Hillary Clinton

    Sen. Bernie Sanders came to Bangor on October 7, 2016 for a “Stronger Together” rally in support of Hillary Clinton, and Democrats up and down the ticket, at the Cross Insurance Center.

    Recent polls have shown Trump polling about 10 points ahead Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District that includes all of the state north of Augusta and Lewiston.

    “You and I and Hillary Clinton have a different vision of the country than Donald Trump,” said Sanders in his remarks. “You want to get angry? Here’s something to get angry about. You’ve got a multi-billionaire. And this guy pays nothing in federal income tax. And he thinks he’s a genius and brilliant for paying nothing. And he believes why do he and other billionaires have to pay their taxes when the middle class and the working class are paying their taxes. Well, Hillary Clinton and I have a different idea, and we say to Mr. Trump and his billionaire friends, ‘You know what, you are going to start paying your fair share of taxes.’”

    Sanders also spoke to Trump’s hypocrisy on trade.

    “But I say to Mr. Trump, stop talking the talk, walk the walk. If you are so concerned about outsourcing American jobs, why do you have factories in Bangladesh where you’re paying workers 30 cents an hour? Why are you making your ties in China? If you’re so concerned about the loss of American jobs, bring those manufacturing jobs back home to the United States of America.”

    Bernie Sanders brought incredible energy and thousands of Mainers into the political process to fight for good jobs and a fair economy. I'm proud to be a part of that work,” said Emily Cain, congressional candidate for Maine’s 2nd congressional district.

    The rally was live-streamed on the Hillary for Maine Facebook page, where it can still be viewed.

    “Senator Sanders made a powerful case today for Hillary Clinton, explaining why it’s so important we elect a president who will fight for every working Mainer, and not just for the billionaires like Donald Trump,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett. “Bernie Sanders led a powerful, populist movement that brought new life, new people and new ideas to our party. Thanks to his leadership, both the state and national parties adopted the most progressive platforms in party history.”

  • CodeGratitude of Maine helps first responders take part!

    Code Gratitude is a mission-driven organization dedicated to showing our appreciation to our country’s bravest and finest. connects supportive businesses with men and women in law enforcement, fire, EMS, and in the military as well as all military veterans.

    CG uniquely partners with businesses to help create customized discounts on products or services that each business provides protectors and their loved ones.

    "It’s marketing businesses can feel good about by giving back," said Code Gratitude founder Shannon Moss, a Maine journalist and wife of a Maine police officer.

     A simple Code Gratitude table sign or sticker in the window of a business establishment stands proudly as recognition of our protectors and as an unspoken expression of gratitude. Each business, in turn, makes an even greater difference for the youth in our communities as 10 percent of all business membership fees directly support the Code Gratitude Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who are studying fire science, criminal justice or entering into a first responder career field.

    The Code Gratitude Scholarship Funds encourages our youth to serve their communities in a First Responder career field. First Responders and all those in uniform strive to serve, protect and defend our families, our communities, and our country with no expectation of even a simple thank you for their unwavering support, service and sacrifice.